By Munir Ahmed
With the United Nations at its side, Pakistan is expected to seek $16.3 billion in aid from the international community for reconstruction for millions of climate-induced flood victims next week in Geneva, officials said Thursday.
Monday’s conference, jointly hosted by the world body and Pakistan, is aimed at raising recovery funds after last summer’s unprecedented floods that killed 1,739 people and affected 33 million Pakistanis. At one point, a third of the country’s territory was under water. Experts said the disaster was partly caused by climate change. The U.N. in Pakistan has said current international aid will run out Jan. 15.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, said the daylong conference will be based on a U.N.-supported assessment that indicates Pakistan suffered more than $30 billion in damage.
She described the document as one of strategy and priorities that will “guide the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction after the recent devastating floods.”
The latest development comes a day after U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will take part in Monday’s conference. He told reporters that Guterres “will call for support to strengthen the resilience of the communities in Pakistan for the future.” Later, Sharif and Guterres will hold a press conference, he said.
The summit titled “International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan,” is taking place weeks after U.N. officials warned that the funding raised so far for Pakistan’s flood victims will run out this month. The world body, they said, had so far received only a third of the $816 million in emergency aid it sought last October for food, medicines and other supplies.
Pakistani officials say the Islamic nation has had a negligible role in global warming but is still vulnerable to climate-induced devastation.
Pakistan emits less than 1% of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, according to officials. Even before the heavy monsoon rains struck in mid-June, cash-strapped Pakistan was facing a serious financial crisis. Officials said that without international aid, Pakistan would not be able to rebuild destroyed homes and infrastructure.
The conference is taking place at a time when Pakistan is trying to avoid a risk of default amid its dwindling reserves and spiralling inflation. That’s forced the country to comply with IMF requirements to keep getting loans from the $6 billion bailout that Islamabad got in 2019.
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