UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 18, 2019 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 18, 2019. The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 74) will spotlight climate change in the coming days when leaders gather at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss issues of common concern, Antonio Guterres said Wednesday. (Xinhua/Li Muzi/IANS)

The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday appealed to the international community for $160 million in emergency aid to provide relief to the victims of floods in Pakistan.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking through a video link during the 2022 Pakistan Floods Response Plan (FRP) event, said infrastructure in the affected areas of Pakistan was destroyed by the floods and the country was in dire need of help from the international community to help those affected.

He said Pakistan is in need of $160 million in aid for the flood victims, adding that greenhouse gases are causing an increase in global warming.

During the ceremony, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also appealed for emergency assistance to Pakistan during these times of distress.

He added that due to climate change, heat waves have broken all records in Pakistan and now the country is facing heavy rainfall and flooding.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairperson said more than 30 million people in 72 districts of the country are currently affected by the catastrophe, while systems of communication and crops have been destroyed and the economy has taken a significant hit.

“Providing food, a roof and rehabilitation to the victims is a big challenge,” Bilawal said, adding that the Benazir Income Support Programme has also been helping the affected families.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal also spoke at the event as he is the chairperson of the “Relief Coordination Committee” constituted by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Resident Coordinator in Islamabad, and the Assistant Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) were also in attendance.

“The launch event will be attended by all UN Member States as well as various UN agencies and humanitarian organizations working in the area of disaster relief. The FRP will acknowledge the Government’s overall humanitarian response to the recent floods caused by unprecedented rains in Pakistan,” the FO had stated earlier.

Initially, authorities in Pakistan were slow to react but the latest reports from the troubled regions indicate the damage caused by current floods is far greater than the super floods of 2010.

Unprecedented flash floods caused by historic monsoon rains have washed away roads, crops, infrastructure and bridges, killing at least 1,000 people in recent weeks and affecting more than 33 million.

UN Secretary-General Guterres to visit Pakistan on Sept 9

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will make a ‘solidarity visit’ to flood-hit Pakistan on Sept 9, his spokesperson said.

“With the tragic situation facing millions of men, women and children impacted by historic floods in Pakistan, the Secretary-General will travel to the country next week for a solidarity visit,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Guterres is expected to arrive in Islamabad and then travel to the areas most impacted by the unprecedented climate catastrophe to meet displaced families, he added.

Pakistan’s permanent UN representative Munir Akram welcomed the announcement. “This is a demonstration of his solidarity with the people & Govt of Pakistan in this hour of need & his determination to mobilize the entire UN system to respond to this human catastrophe,” he said on Twitter.

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