The Pakistani people are victims of “a grim climate injustice”declared the UN Secretary General last Friday before the General Assembly, recalling that although the country is responsible for less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it pays a “Disproportionate cost of climate change caused by human activity”.
During a plenary session of the UN’s most representative body on the devastating floods in the country, António Guterres recalled his visit last month to the flooded country during which he was able to see first hand “a level of climate carnage beyond imagination”. Guterres described, for example, how the floodwaters covered an area three times larger than his own country, Portugal, and said many had lost their homes, livestock, crops and “His future”. “Shattered Lives”, he explained.
The worst for Pakistan is yet to come
Although the rains have stopped and the water is beginning to recede, many parts of the south are still flooded and with the onset of winter the situation is going from bad to worse.
“Pakistan is on the brink of a health catastrophe”, warned the UN chief, noting that the threats of cholera, malaria and dengue can claim “many more lives than floods”. The official painted a picture of nearly 1,500 devastated health facilities, two million damaged or destroyed homes and more than two million families without their belongings. “Many have no shelter as winter approaches”.
Cascading disasters in Pakistan
At the same time, the extent of the destruction of crops and livestock is “Creating a food crisis today and jeopardizing the planting season tomorrow”Guterres continued.
“Acute hunger is increasing. Malnutrition among children and pregnant and lactating women is on the rise. The number of out-of-school children is increasing. The pain and hardship, especially for women and girls, is increasing.”he explained.
Moreover, more than 15 million people could be pushed into poverty. The effects of the floods will not only be felt for days or months, but they will persist in Pakistan for years.
Massive support needed for Pakistan
Together with the Government of Pakistan, the Secretary-General convened a pledging conference to provide support for recovery and reconstruction, and urged countries, international organizations, the private sector and civil society to fully support these efforts.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has launched the Pakistan Flood Response Plan, which ask for $816 million -an increase of 656 million compared to the initial appeal- to meet the most urgent needs until next May. “But that pales in comparison to what is needed on all fronts, including food, water, sanitation (…) and health support”Guterres said.
The moral responsibility of the G20
As the calendar moves rapidly towards the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in November, he said that “The world is moving backwards, [ya que] greenhouse gas emissions increase with climatic calamities”.
The UN chief stressed that COP27 must be the place where these trends are reversed, where serious action is taken on loss and damage, and where vital funding for adaptation and resilience is found. After recalling that the main industrialized countries of the G20 generate 80% of the emissions that destroy the climate, he affirmed that it is his “moral responsibility” helping Pakistan recover, adapt and build resilience to disasters “supercharged by the climate crisis”.
We must act now
Guterres pointed out that a third of Pakistan has been flooded and many island states are facing “the very real prospect of the collapse of their entire territory”.
“Communities around the world are facing climate-induced destruction”said. “We must act, and we must act now”. Although it was Pakistan this time, the Secretary-General warned that tomorrow “it could be any of our countries and communities”. “Climate chaos is knocking on everyone’s door right now,” he concluded. “This global crisis demands solidarity and a global response”.
litmus test of solidarity
The President of the General Assembly, for his part, underlined the importance of time, since “the price we pay for delays is increasing every day”.
Csaba Kőrösi said that today the world faces a “litmus test of solidarity” by how Member States are responding to the difficult situation in Pakistan. “This is a tragedy of epic proportions” which requires “immediate action” to avoid a “permanent emergency”.
Rebuilding Pakistan together
The President of the Assembly stressed the need to be better prepared when droughts and rains return. More than ever, international relief efforts must focus on transformative solutions, he said. “Adaptation and resilience are the seeds of sustainability”. Kőrösi urged the ambassadors to “calling on science and solidarity (…) to improve our crisis management capabilities… [para] rebuild together”.
Ask for help
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is trying to urgently help more than 650,000 refugees and members of their host communities affected by the terrible floods in Pakistan.
Noting that the scale of the devastation is “difficult to understand”spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh told a press conference in Geneva on Friday that as Pakistan faces “a colossal challenge” to respond to the climate catastrophe, more support is needed “for the country and its people, who have generously welcomed Afghan refugees for more than four decades”.
He reported on the latest estimates of unprecedented rainfall and flooding, recording at least 1700 dead; 12,800 injured including at least 4,000 children; some 7.9 million displaced; and nearly 600,000 people living in relief locations.
“Pakistan is on the front line of the climate emergency”said Saltmarsh. UNHCR is seeking additional funding to meet immediate needs and contribute to early recovery processes.
“It could take months for the floodwaters to recede in the worst affected areas, as fears grow over the threats of waterborne diseases and the safety of millions of affected people, 70% of whom are women and children. »he said, remembering that “environmental sustainability will continue to be fundamental in the response”.
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Reference article: https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/10/1515992