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    Flood-hit Pakistan to seek USD16B at next week’s conference

    ISLAMABAD (AP) – With the United Nations (UN) at its side, Pakistan is expected to seek USD16.3 billion in aid from the international community for reconstruction for millions of climate-induced flood victims next week in Geneva, officials said yesterday.

    Monday’s conference, jointly hosted by the world body and Pakistan, is aimed at raising recovery funds after last summer’s unprecedented floods that killed 1,739 people and affected 33 million Pakistanis. At one point, a third of the country’s territory was under water.

    Experts said the disaster was partly caused by climate change. The UN in Pakistan has said current international aid will run out on January 15.

    Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, said the day-long conference will be based on a UN-supported assessment that indicates Pakistan suffered over USD30 billion in damage.

    She described the document as one of strategy and priorities that will “guide the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction after the recent devastating floods”.

    Flood victims from monsoon rain use a makeshift barge to carry hay for cattle in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province. PHOTO: AP

    The latest development comes a day after UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will take part in Monday’s conference. He told reporters that Guterres “will call for support to strengthen the resilience of the communities in Pakistan for the future”. Later, Sharif and Guterres will hold a press conference, he said.

    The summit titled ‘International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan’ is taking place weeks after UN officials warned that the funding raised so far for Pakistan’s flood victims will run out this month. The world body, they said, had so far received only a third of the USD816 million in emergency aid it sought last October for food, medicines and other supplies.

    Pakistani officials said the Islamic nation has had a negligible role in global warming but is still vulnerable to climate-induced devastation.

    Pakistan emits less than one per cent of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, according to officials.

    Even before the heavy monsoon rains struck in mid-June, cash-strapped Pakistan was facing a serious financial crisis. Officials said without international aid, Pakistan would not be able to rebuild destroyed homes and infrastructure.

    The conference is taking place at a time when Pakistan is trying to avoid a risk of default amid its dwindling reserves and spiraling inflation.

    That’s forced the country to comply with International Monetary Fund requirements to keep getting loans from the USD6-billion bailout that Islamabad got in 2019.

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