At UN, Pakistan reaffirms commitment to reduce disaster risk, build resilience

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 (APP): Reaffirming its commitment to reduce disaster risk, Pakistan told the UN General Assembly Thursday of the government’s “outstanding” efforts in responding to last year’s devastating floods across the country, with swift rescue and relief operations to get some 30 million affected people out of immediate risk.

In spite of huge financial challenges, Lt. General Inam Haider Malik, Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said the government demonstrated its resolve and commitment for the urgent needs of the affected people.

“Pakistan’s military, especially the Army, led rescue and relief operations and helped stabilizing initial phases of rescue, resulting in great control on damage and impacts,” Gen. Malik told the 193-member Assembly which began a two-day, high-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York to review the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and its seven global targets at the halfway point,

The climate-induced flooding cost over 1700 Pakistani lives and covered as much as one-third of the country at one point, resulting in over $30 billion in damages.

Pakistan, the NADMA chief said, was thus facing a daunting challenge in executing its plans for recovery and reconstruction.

In his remarks, Gen.Malik proposed a global Disaster Risk Reduction (DDR) fund to finance regional DRR gap needs  separate from the climate-focused financing window.

While still recovering from floods and being in a state of distress, he told delegates that Pakistan extended a helping hand to the earthquake-hit Turkiye and Syria, dispatching over 10,000 tons of relief articles moved via air bridge, and by land and sea cargo routes — a rare global example.

The Government of Pakistan, the NDMA chief said was fully committed to implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction — the landmark 2015 agreement to reduce damage, losses and deaths from natural and man-made hazards by the end of the decade and called for shared knowledge and technology, to help vulnerable countries have early-warning capabilities from global tech sources.

Climate threats, he said, were global and need global response — “No one is safe, until everyone is”.

“We acknowledge all global partners and supporters who have helped Pakistan to stand in the disaster and look forward for early recovery from last year’s floods,” Gen.Malik said. Recovery plans need to focus on greater participation from the developed world to carry all together towards common objective of a safe climate.

Earlier, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that global progress towards disaster risk management has been weak and insufficient, putting at risk the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the meeting, member states adopted a political declaration which in part calls for improving national mechanisms to share disaster risk data and analysis, including at the regional and international levels.

For General Assembly President Csaba Korosi, the midterm review was “our last chance before 2030 to collectively change course”, underscoring the critical need for action.

“Eight years on, we must admit that our progress has not kept pace with the urgency of our days. The known number of people affected by disasters

Managing risk is not an option but a global commitment, the UN Deputy Secretary-General told the gathering.

“Our world is at a defining point in history. As we review our journey halfway to 2030, we must acknowledge that progress has been weak and insufficient,” Ms. Mohammed said.

As countries did not meet climate and sustainable development commitments, natural disasters that could have been prevented have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions to be uprooted, mainly women, children, and other vulnerable groups, she said.

The situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “triple crisis” of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, the rising cost of living, skyrocketing inequality and the war in Ukraine.

Further threats stem from structural governance omissions within the banking and global financial systems, while scientists warn of cascading and irreversible impacts of global warming.

“Addressing these challenges means changing our response to risk through systemic thinking, collaborative action, and the smart, agile deployment of responses to prevent, manage and mitigate global risks,” she said.

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