Pakistan can’t afford flood recovery, seeks help, climate minister says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan cannot afford to spend more on recovering from devastating floods blamed on climate change, the climate change minister said on Tuesday, as she called for faster international help at the launch of a new UN appeal for aid.

The United Nations revised up its humanitarian appeal for Pakistan five-fold, to $816 million from $160 million, as a surge of water-borne diseases and fear of growing hunger posed new dangers after weeks of unprecedented flooding.

“We have no space to give our economy any stimulus […] the developed world should accelerate funding for climate hit disasters,” the climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, told a conference on aid for Pakistan in Geneva.

The floods have submerged huge swathes of the country and killed nearly 1,700 people. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are living in the open.

The deluge, brought by record monsoon rains and heavy glacial melt in northern mountains, has impacted 33 million people out of a population of 220 million and caused damage the government estimates at $30 billion.

The government and the United Nations have blamed climate change for the disaster.

Julien Harneis, the UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan, said the $816 million target for the appeal was “absolutely not enough”.

Rehman said Pakistan was in urgent need of medicines for 8.2 million people and would need to import extra supplies of food.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), told the meeting Pakistan was “on the verge of a public health disaster”.

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Epaper_22-12-08 LHR