Pakistan needs additional financial assistance, not loans said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday, adding that they may seek compensation for the estimated $30 billion in climate damage caused by recent catastrophic floods.
Seeking debt relief is also on Sharif’s plans, whose government is struggling to help millions of internally displaced people recover from the unprecedented floods.
Speaking at the COP27 climate conference alongside United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Sharif said that escalating public debt of Pakistan was impeding its recovery from the damages of catastrophic floods that have killed more than 1,700 people since June.
“Millions of people are going into winter without shelter or livelihood,” PM Shehbaz said. “Women and children are still looking to us to protect their basic needs.”
At the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP-27) in Egypt, Pakistan and other climate-vulnerable nations are demanding that the UN and rich countries take steps to mobilize “loss and damage” funds for disaster-hit countries and communities. The vulnerable communities maintained that the rich countries are obliged to pay these costs because their historical carbon emissions are mainly responsible for global warming today.
“We have mobilized every available resource toward the national relief effort,” but it is not enough, PM Shehbaz said — describing hundreds of kilometers of broken roads, several dozens of bridges across the country, and hundreds of acres of southern agricultural landscape drowned under stagnant flood water.
Meanwhile, the United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres urged international financial institutions like the World Bank and G20 leaders to make policies that offer debt relief and concessional loans to help middle-income countries to focus on rebuilding climate-damaged areas and not on repayment of loans.
“There should be a way to have a (debt) swap exchanging the payments of the debt to investments in the rehabilitation and recovery and reconstruction from natural disasters,” Guterres added.