ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will urge the international community to cooperate in tackling climate change at the United Nations later this month, the foreign minister said on Saturday, as the South Asian nation grapples with catastrophic floods that covered a third of the country. and killed about 1,400 people.
Monsoon rains and melting glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountains caused flooding that washed away homes, critical infrastructure, livestock and crops, affecting 35 million of Pakistan’s 220 million people.
Officials put the cost of flood damage at $30 billion as the government and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres blamed the devastating deluge on climate change.
António Guterres, who is visiting the country to raise awareness of the disaster, appealed for “massive” help from the international community, and invited Pakistan to participate in a special roundtable on climate change that he is organizing, which will take place during the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly this month, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told Arab News.
“This is an international problem and it is all due to the whole world, so we hope that we will come out of this problem collectively with the cooperation of the international community,” Bhutto-Zardari said in an exclusive interview.
“During this roundtable, the Prime Minister will have the opportunity to speak about the adverse effects of climate change on Pakistan and highlight the destruction and damage caused by climate change-induced flooding.”
Despite contributing less than one percent of global carbon emissions, Pakistan ranks eighth on the Global Climate Risk Index published by German non-governmental organization Germanwatch, which lists the countries most vulnerable to weather conditions. extremes caused by climate change.
The government will also highlight the scale of flood losses and raise awareness of Pakistan’s “immediate and long-term needs for the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase”, Bhutto-Zardari said.
With many parts of the country still inundated with water, authorities are struggling with rescue and relief efforts, particularly in southern Sindh and southwestern Balochistan provinces, which officials said resembled “at the sea”.
The government is also preparing for the emergence of water-borne diseases and is concerned about the potential impact of the floods on more than 600,000 pregnant women who could face problems if they needed immediate medical attention, said said Bhutto-Zardari.
The UN appealed for $160 million to help Pakistan cope with the disaster, but the foreign minister said the amount – 45% of which has so far been pledged by the UN Member States – is “insufficient for this magnitude of damage”. ”
Officials are working with international agencies to produce a joint assessment to determine funds needed for reconstruction and rehabilitation of flood victims, Bhutto-Zardari said.
With the help of the UN chief, Pakistan “will then organize a donors’ conference to generate these funds by mobilizing the international community”, he added.
While touring the affected areas on Saturday, António Guterres called on the world to “stop the madness”, taking to social media to incentivize investment in renewable energy.
“Pakistan and other developing countries are paying a horrific price for the intransigence of big emitters who continue to bet on fossil fuels,” he wrote on Twitter. “Ending the war with nature.”