Pakistan’s foreign minister says aid needed after ‘crushing’ floods

ISLAMABAD, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Pakistan needs financial help to deal with “crushing” floods, its foreign minister said on Sunday, adding that he hoped financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund take into account the economic benefits.

Unusually heavy monsoon rains caused devastating floods in the north and south of the country, affecting more than 30 million people and killing more than 1,000 people. Read more

“I haven’t seen destruction of this magnitude, I find it very difficult to put into words…it’s overwhelming,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said in an interview with Reuters. , adding that many crops provided much of the people’s livelihoods had been wiped out.

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“Obviously this will have an effect on the overall economic situation,” he said.

The South Asian nation was already in an economic crisis, facing high inflation, a depreciating currency and a current account deficit.

The IMF board will decide this week to release $1.2 billion under the seventh and eighth tranches of Pakistan’s bailout program, which it entered in 2019.

Bhutto-Zardari said the board had to approve the release as an agreement between Pakistani officials and IMF staff had already been reached and he hoped that in the coming months the IMF would recognize the impact floods.

“Going forward, I would expect not only the IMF, but the international community and international agencies to really grasp the level of devastation,” he said.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Bhutto-Zardari, the son of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said the economic impact was still being assessed, but some estimates put it at $4 billion. Given the impact on infrastructure and people’s livelihoods, he said he expected the total figure to be much higher.

Pakistan’s central bank had previously flagged the record monsoon rainfall as a threat to economic output given its impact on agriculture.

Pakistan would launch an appeal this week asking United Nations member states to help with relief efforts, Bhutto-Zardari said, and the country needed to consider how it would manage the longer-term impacts of climate change.

“In the next phase, when we turn to rehabilitation and reconstruction, we will have conversations not only with the IMF, but with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank,” Bhutto-Zardari said.

Bhutto-Zardari said after the relief efforts, the country should consider how to develop infrastructure that is more resilient to floods and droughts and deal with the huge changes facing the agricultural sector.

“Despite the fact that Pakistan contributes negligibly to the global carbon footprint…we are devastated by climate disasters such as these time and time again, and we have to adapt within our limited resources, as much as possible, to live in this new environment,” he said.

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Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in Islamabad and Syed Raza Hassan in Karachi; Editing by Alex Richardson

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