United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while referring to Pakistan’s catastrophic floods, said Friday that “humanity has declared war on nature and nature is striking back.”
Guterres spoke in Islamabad at the start of his two-day visit to express solidarity with the flood-ravaged South Asian nation. He said nature is blind and it is not striking back at those who have contributed more to the war on nature.
“It’s like nature has attacked the wrong targets. It should be those that are more responsible for climate change that should have to face this kind of challenge,” Guterres said.
He described Pakistan among the places most affected by the consequences of climate change.
The country of about 220 million people contributes less than 1% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, but it is constantly listed among the top 10 countries vulnerable to climate change.
“So, there is an obligation of the international community to massively support Pakistan in these circumstances, and there is an obligation of the international community to take seriously the need to drastically reduce emissions,” he said.
Guterres renewed his call for increasing international support to help Pakistan deal with the emergency, promising mobilization of more U.N. resources.
“We know that our contribution is limited. We know that what we do is a drop in the ocean of the needs, but we are totally committed,” he said.
Pakistan is currently being hit by catastrophic and unprecedented floods stemming from historic monsoon rains that began in mid-June. The U.N. says the seasonal downpours “have broken a century-long record” and dumped more than five times the 30-year average for rainfall in some parts of the country.
The flooding has claimed the lives of about 1,400 people, including nearly 500 children, and has affected 33 million others, with nearly 700,000 people made homeless, and has drenched one-third of Pakistan, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. Nearly 13,000 people have been injured and upwards of 750,000 livestock have perished in floodwaters,
Pakistani officials say damage to infrastructure and property also has been colossal, as more than 1.7 million homes have been washed away or damaged. The flooding has turned most of southern Sindh province, one of the hardest-hit regions, into an “ocean of water,” according to Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman.
The U.N. has called for $160 million in international assistance to help the flood victims. The World Health Organization has said more than 6.4 million flood victims need humanitarian support.
The National Disaster Management Authority, in its latest situation report, said the raging floodwaters have washed away 246 bridges, nearly 7,000 kilometers of roads, and swamped more than 809,370 hectares of farmland across the country. Officials estimate the disaster could have cost the country between $15 billion and $20 billion in losses, and the reconstruction process could take years.
More than 50 international humanitarian relief flights have arrived in Pakistan as of Friday from countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, China, France, Iran, Britain, Azerbaijan, Norway, the United States and Kazakhstan.