Pakistan FM seeks compensation for flood damage

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Pakistan’s foreign minister reiterated calls for compensation for the unprecedented destruction wrought in the country by floods this summer, saying debt relief could be a mechanism to do it.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told The Associated Press on Wednesday at the UN climate summit in Egypt that the world was not equipped to deal with weather disasters of this magnitude and urged countries to find ways to solve the problem.

“There is no pot of gold sitting anywhere or any truly available international financial mechanism to deal with a tragedy of this magnitude,” he said.

His comment comes as Pakistan races against time to organize tents, food and other supplies for flood victims ahead of winter in a few weeks. The weather-induced flooding killed 1,739 people, displaced hundreds of thousands and caused around $40 billion in damage, according to the World Bank.

“Many months after the first floods and rainfall, many areas are still under water,” Bhutto-Zardari said, adding that the World Health Organization had warned the country was facing a health crisis due to of waterborne diseases.

He added that instead of ‘charity’ or ‘reparations’ to pay for climate damage, nations should consider ‘off the shelf solutions that we could come up with that can be win-wins for developing countries. development and developing countries”.

One is to cancel debts owed by developing countries to rich countries, allowing nations to spend that money on clean energy and adapt to worsening weather caused by climate change.

Experts say Pakistan is only responsible for 0.4% of the world’s historic emissions that are responsible for climate change. The United States is responsible for 21.5%, China for 16.5% and the European Union for 15%.

Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan would hold an international donors’ conference early next year to seek financial assistance to kick-start much-needed rehabilitation and reconstruction work in flood-affected areas, where thousands live. still in tents and makeshift houses.

Bhutto-Zardari’s comments come more than a month after the United Nations issued a revised appeal, asking for five times more international aid for Pakistan amid rising deaths from waterborne diseases and others. In October, the UN raised its request to $816 million from $160 million, saying recent assessments underlined the urgent need for long-term assistance through next year.

Doctors in Pakistan’s worst-hit Sindh province and southern Balochistan are still trying to contain the outbreak of waterborne diseases, which have claimed nearly 400 deaths in flood-affected areas since July. According to the World Health Organization, about 10% of Pakistan’s health facilities were damaged by the floods, leaving millions of people without access to healthcare.

However, most of those displaced by the floods have returned to their homes.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited flood-affected areas in Pakistan in September, assuring Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif of his full support in bringing to light the plight of flood victims. Sharif also attended the climate change conference in Egypt this week and asked for help dealing with flood damage.

Bhutto-Zardari said Guterres spoke about debt relief for climate-affected countries. “Pakistan is the eighth most climate-stressed country on the planet, but most climate-stressed countries on the planet are also indebted, and that debt is owed to developed countries,” Bhutto-Zardari said.

So far, China and Washington have been the main contributors in response to the floods in Pakistan, although several other countries have also sent planes loaded with aid, many flood victims in Pakistan say they were still without no help or that they have received too little help from the government. or aid agencies.

The Chinese leader is not attending this year’s climate summit, nor is the leader of India, Pakistan’s main rival and one of the world’s most polluting countries.

Bhutto-Zardari said “it would have been helpful if India participated at an appropriate level”.

“And we hope our neighbors take this issue seriously as well,” he said. “It’s really something that we can only fight if we are together across the world and take our responsibilities seriously.”

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Ahmed reported from Islamabad, Pakistan.

The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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