UN chief Guterres to travel to Pak next week on solidarity visit amid devastating floods

UNITED NATIONS — UN chief Antonio Guterres will travel to Pakistan next week for a solidarity visit as the country and million of its people reel from the impact of “epochal” levels of rain and flooding, as a USD 160 million emergency plan was launched to help the cash-starved nation deal with the climate calamity.

A statement issued here Tuesday said that Secretary-General Guterres will travel to Pakistan for a solidarity visit given the “tragic situation facing millions of men, women and children impacted by historic floods.”

The Secretary-General is expected to arrive in Islamabad on September 9 and will then travel to the areas most impacted by the unprecedented climate catastrophe.

Guterres will meet with displaced families and will also witness how the UN is working, in collaboration with its humanitarian partners, to support the government’s relief efforts and provide assistance to millions of people.

Guterres is expected back in New York on September 11.

In a video message on the flash appeal in support of the Pakistan Flood Response Plan, Guterres said the country is “awash in suffering.”

“The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding. This climate catastrophe has killed more than 1,000 people with many more injured,” he said.

Millions have been rendered homeless, schools and health facilities have been destroyed, livelihoods are shattered, critical infrastructure wiped out, and people’s hopes and dreams have washed away, Guterres said.

The “2022 Pakistan Floods Response Plan (FRP)” was jointly launched by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations, simultaneously in Islamabad and Geneva.

The FRP is being launched against the backdrop of devastating rains, floods and landslides that have impacted more than 33 million people in different parts of Pakistan.

Over 1,100 people, including over 350 children have lost their lives, more than 1,600 people have been injured, over 287,000 houses have been fully and 662,000 partially destroyed, over 735,000 livestock have perished and 2 million acres of crops have been adversely impacted, besides severe damage to communications infrastructure.

The FRP focuses on the needs of 5.2 million people, with life-saving response activities amounting to USD 160.3 million covering food security, assistance for agriculture and livestock, shelter and non-food items, nutrition programmes, primary health services, protection, water and sanitation, women’s health, and education support, as well as shelter for displaced people.

Guterres said that in response to the devastation, the Government of Pakistan has released funds, including immediate cash relief but the scale of needs is rising like the flood waters and this requires the world’s collective and prioritized attention.

The Flash Appeal for USD 160 million to support the response, led by the Government of Pakistan, will provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education, protection and health support, he said.

Guterres underlined that South Asia is one of the world’s global climate crisis hotspots and people living in these hotspots are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts.

“As we continue to see more and more extreme weather events around the world, it is outrageous that climate action is being put on the back burner as global emissions of greenhouse gases are still rising, putting all of us – everywhere – in growing danger,” he said.

While urging the world community to step up in solidarity and support the people of Pakistan in their hour of need, Guterres said “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.” — (PTI)