ISLAMABAD (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world to help Pakistan after arriving in the country Friday to see damage from record floods that have killed hundreds and left more than half a million people homeless and living in tents under the open sky.
His trip comes less than two weeks after Guterres requested $160 million in emergency funding to help those affected by monsoon rains and floods that have caused at least $10 billion in damage and 1,391 deaths.
“I have come to Pakistan to express my deep solidarity with the Pakistani people after the devastating floods here. I appeal for massive support from the international community as Pakistan responds to this climate disaster,” he said on Twitter before dawn.
Last week, the head of the UN issued a stark warning about the effects of climate change.
“Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change,” he said in a video message at a ceremony in Islamabad at the time. “Today, it is Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.”
So far, UN agencies and several countries have sent dozens of planes with aid. The United States said it would provide $30 million in aid to help flood victims.
The floods have touched the whole of Pakistan and affected more than 3.3 million people. Heritage sites have also been damaged, including Mohenjo Daro, considered one of the best-preserved ancient urban settlements in South Asia.
The ruins near the Indus River were discovered in 1922 and to this day, mystery surrounds the disappearance of the civilization dating back 4,500 years, coinciding with those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Mohenjo Daro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the UN’s cultural heritage agency announced on Thursday an emergency sum of $350,000 to help recover flood-damaged heritage sites.
Guterres was received on arrival by Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and will meet with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other government and military officials during his visit.
Ahead of the UN chief’s arrival, Sharif told a visiting US diplomat that the world must step up its fight against climate change to avoid more deadly floods. Derek Chollet, a senior State Department official, was visiting Islamabad to assess the damage and arrange for aid.
According to the government statement, Sole confirmed that the US will stand by Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods and provide aid to help people rebuild.
On Friday, the first US plane carrying aid will arrive in Pakistan, according to Pakistani officials, who say Washington is setting up a humanitarian airlift to deliver essentials to flood victims.
Since June, heavy rains and floods have added new burdens to cash-strapped Pakistan and underscored the disproportionate impact of climate change on poor populations. Experts say Pakistan accounts for only 0.4% of the world’s historical emissions responsible for climate change. The US accounts for 21.5%, China for 16.5% and the EU for 15%.
The floods in Pakistan have also injured 12,722 people, destroyed thousands of kilometers of roads, collapsed bridges and damaged schools and hospitals, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.