ISLAMABAD (AP) — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday the world owes impoverished Pakistan “massive” help to recover from the devastating floods because other countries have contributed far more to climate change. , which experts say may have helped trigger the flood.
Months of monsoons and floods have killed 1,391 people and affected 3.3 million in the South Asian country, while half a million people have been left homeless. Airplanes loaded with aid from the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other countries have started arriving, but much remains to be done, said António Guterres.
Nature, the UN chief in Islamabad said, has attacked Pakistan, which contributes less than 1% of global emissions, according to several experts. Nations that “are more responsible for climate change … should have faced this challenge,” said António Guterres, seated next to Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“We are heading towards a disaster,” added António Guterres. “We have waged war on nature and nature is backing down and fighting back in devastating ways. Today in Pakistan, tomorrow in any of your countries.
The UN chief’s trip comes less than two weeks after Guterres appealed for $160 million in emergency funding to help those affected by monsoon rains and floods which Pakistan says caused at least $10 billion in damage. On Friday, the first loaded plane arrived from the United States, which Washington says is part of an upcoming $30 million aid package.
“I call for overwhelming support from the international community as Pakistan responds to this climate catastrophe,” António Guterres tweeted after landing in Pakistan earlier on Friday.
He said other countries that contribute to climate change are obligated to reduce emissions and help Pakistan. He assured Sharif that his voice was “fully at the service of the government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan” and that “the entire United Nations system is at the service of Pakistan”.
“Pakistan has not contributed significantly to climate change, the level of emissions in this country is relatively low,” said António Guterres. “But Pakistan is one of the countries most affected by climate change.”
Later, Guterres addressed his words to the international community, saying that according to some estimates, Pakistan needs about $30 billion to recover.
So far, UN agencies and several countries have sent nearly 60 planes loaded with aid, and authorities say the UAE has been one of the most generous contributors and has sent so far 26 flights carrying aid to flood victims.
Also on Friday, USAID Administrator Samantha Power met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Islamabad.
The floods affected all of Pakistan, including heritage sites such as Mohenjo Daro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered one of the best-preserved ancient urban settlements in South Asia. The civilization that dates back 4,500 years, coinciding with those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The United Nations heritage agency announced on Thursday that it would send $350,000 to help recover cultural heritage sites damaged by the floods.
Since June, heavy rains and floods have added new burdens to cash-strapped Pakistan and highlighted the disproportionate effect of climate change on poor people. Experts say Pakistan is only responsible for 0.4% of the world’s historic emissions that are responsible for climate change. The United States is responsible for 21.5%, China for 16.5% and the European Union for 15%.
Pakistan’s floods have also injured 12,722 people, destroyed thousands of miles of roads, knocked down bridges and damaged schools and hospitals, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.