Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday sought USD 8 billion assistance from the international community over the next three years to bridge the funding needs for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the areas hit by last year's disastrous floods that killed 1,739 people and affected 33 million people.
Prime Minister Sharif while addressing the opening session of the ‘International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan' in Geneva, which he co-hosted with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said that the country would need a minimum of USD 16.3 billion, half of which is expected to be met by foreign help.
The conference aims to raise funds for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of flood-hit Pakistan in a climate-resilient manner.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Public Policy and Strategic Communication Fahd Husain quoted the UN chief as saying that approximately USD 7.2 billion had been raised at the Geneva conference.
"The first part of the plan reflects the recovery and reconstruction, bearing in mind that the minimum funding of USD 16.3 billion is required, half of which will be met with domestic resources, half from foreign resources,” Sharif said in his remarks.
Pakistan estimated that about USD 30 billion were needed to come out of the deadly impact of the floods which was the worst in the last three decades.
Sharif said Pakistan witnessed a "monsoon on steroids this year" that affected 30 million people, displaced more than eight million and washed away roads spread over 8,000 kilometres but the government responded quickly and the help of the world community restored the communication system while delivering cash and food to affected families.
"One can go on and on but to truly say, we are racing against time.
We are thankful for the support extended to us by the Asian Development Bank, UN, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and several other international organisations," he said.
He said that the government had prepared a comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and resilience — the 4RF plan.
"This conference today is not just about helping to rebuild lives, but in fact, it is about the solidarity and vision needed to ensure a future not just on paper but in schools and homes," he said.
On his part, Guterres urged the international community for “massive investments” to help Pakistan recover from the devastating floods.
"No country deserves to endure what happened to Pakistan,” the secretary general said, revealing that 9 million people had been pushed to the brink of poverty.
He also praised the people of Pakistan for coming out and helping the people hit by the floods while stressing that rebuilding the country in a resilient way would need USD 16 billion.
However, he added that “far more” would be required in the long run.
He pledged to stand by the people of Pakistan who in his words were “doubly victimised” by climate disasters and “morally bankrupt” global financial systems that “routinely denies middle-income countries of debt relief and concessional relief needed to invest in resilience against natural disasters." He called for adopting creative ways for developing countries to access debt relief and concessional financing.
“We need to be honest about the brutal injustice suffered by developing countries due to climate change,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, in his address through a video link, promised to provide USD 10 million in aid support to Pakistan, as he announced that his country would continue to provide expertise and some financial support to Islamabad.
More pledges are expected to be made but the real test would be to translate them into action and hard cash which may take months if not years.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced that the Islamic Development Bank had pledged USD 4.2 billion while World Bank President for South Asia Martin Raiser had pledged USD 2 billion.
"Int'l community and development partners are demonstrating exemplary compassion for flood victims. Islamic development bank group has pledged USD 4.2 billion at Geneva moot, WB vice President for South Asia Martin Raiser announced USD 2 billion, responding to PM's call for concrete action," she tweeted.
German Ambassador in Islamabad Alfred Grannas said that his country had pledged an additional 89 million euros to its climate and energy initiative in Pakistan.
"This support comes on top of the 99m euros already promised. I'm grateful we can continue our partnership with the people the government of Pakistan to build a #ResilientPakistan!" he tweeted.
Citing a senior official from the development agency USAID, the Dawn reported that Washington would provide an additional USD 100 million in funding.
"I am delighted to announce that the United States is making an additional USD 100 million commitment to Pakistan to help it recover from the devastating 2022 monster monsoon floods,” USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman told reporters on the sidelines of the conference in Geneva.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, and Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq also addressed the conference.
The conference is being held at a time when Pakistan is facing an economic crisis due to the threat of default due to depleting foreign exchange reserves and rising prices of commodities.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)