Post-flood rebuilding in Pakistan a ‘top priority’, says UN chief

Published December 16, 2022
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meet United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the G77 moot in New York on Friday. — Photo via Bilawal/Twitter
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meet United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the G77 moot in New York on Friday. — Photo via Bilawal/Twitter
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meet United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the G77 moot in New York on Friday. — Photo via Bilawal/Twitter
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meet United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the G77 moot in New York on Friday. — Photo via Bilawal/Twitter

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that “resilient reconstruction” of flood-hit areas in Pakistan was his “top priority” as he reaffirmed “full support” of the UN for ongoing humanitarian work in the country.

The UN chief made the statement in a meeting with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the sidelines of the G77 ministerial conference in New York on Thursday.

According to an official statement, Bilawal conveyed his appreciation to the secretary general for his “solidarity” for massive support to Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods in the country, and for announcing International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in Geneva on Jan 9, 2023.

The minister sought the UN’s continued cooperation to secure the participation of key donors, development institutions, and the private sector in the conference to encourage them to support Pakistan’s comprehensive plan and specific project proposals.

Guterres reaffirmed the full support and cooperation of the UN, both for ongoing humanitarian relief work as well as for long-term recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

He said that the success of the conference and Pakistan’s resilient reconstruction were his “top priority”.

The secretary-general also appreciated Pakistan’s timely initiative to convene a special ministerial conference of the G77 and China to build a unified and comprehensive strategy to overcome immediate challenges facing developing countries.

Bilawal seeks ‘urgent operationalisation’ of funds for post-flood rehab

Meanwhile, the foreign minister chaired the group meeting today and delivered his speech covering wide-ranging issues facing Pakistan and the region.

In a series of tweets, Bilawal said he highlighted that the developing countries suffered disproportionately from multiple crises including the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, spiralling prices, depreciating currencies, climate-induced disasters and geopolitical tensions.

“I proposed several emergency measures and systemic reforms to revive the economies of the developing countries such as the reform of the international financial architecture (as proposed by UNSG), including a multilateral mechanism for sustainable debt management,” he said.

The foreign minister also called for the implementation of the climate change agenda and commitments in accordance with the principle of equity. He also demanded an urgent operationalisation of the fund for “loss and damage”.

“I stressed the need for rapid deployment of sustainable infrastructure — energy, transportation, housing, manufacturing, agriculture — to transition to a sustainable global economy,” he wrote in a tweet.

Bilawal had arrived in New York on Dec 13 on a seven-day visit for talks with world leaders at the UN headquarters and with senior US officials in Washington.

Islamabad assumed the G77’s leadership in January 2021, while Cuba will chair the group and China for 2023.

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