UN chief visits areas of Pakistan devastated by floods - GulfToday

UN chief visits areas of Pakistan devastated by floods


Shahbaz Sharif flanked by Antonio Guterres (C) as he holds a child of an internally displaced woman at a makeshift camp during their visit to flood-affected area on Saturday. AFP

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Saturday visited several areas of Pakistan ravaged by floods, as he rounded off a two-day trip aimed at raising awareness of the disaster.

Record monsoon rains and glacier melt in northern mountains have triggered floods that have killed more than 1,391 people, sweeping away houses, roads, railway tracks, bridges, livestock and crops.


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Huge areas of the country are inundated, and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes. The government says the lives of nearly 33 million have been disrupted. Pakistan estimates the damage at $30 billion, and both the government and Guterres have blamed the flooding on climate change.

Antonio Guterres (second left) meets with flood-affected children at a makeshift camp in Jaffarabad on Saturday. AFP

The UN secretary-general landed in Sindh province on Saturday, before flying over some of the worst-affected areas en route to Balochistan, another badly hit province.

"It is difficult not to feel deeply moved to hear such detailed descriptions of tragedy," Guterres said after landing in Sindh, according to a video released by the office of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

"Pakistan needs massive financial support. This is not a matter of generosity, it is a matter of justice."

A woman prepares tea at a temporary tent housing camp organised by UNHCR in Sukkur, Pakistan. AP

A video released by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb showed Guterres seated next to Sharif viewing flood-damaged areas from an aircraft window. "Unimaginable," Guterres said, surveying the damage.

UN-chief-visit-Pakistan-main1-750 Shahbaz Sharif (right) and Antonio Guterres (left) arrive at the Sukkur airport on Saturday. AFP

In July and August, Pakistan got 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average. The southern province of Sindh has seen 466% more rain than average.

Guterres said on Saturday the world needed to understand the impact of climate change on low-income countries.

Displaced people rest at a temporary tent housing camp organised by UNHCR in Sukkur, Pakistan, on Saturday. AP

"Humanity has been waging war on nature and nature strikes back," he said.

"Nature strikes back in Sindh, but it was not Sindh that has made the emissions of greenhouse gases that have accelerated climate change so dramatically," Guterres said. "There is a very unfair situation relative to the level of destruction."





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