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Pakistan receives billions in foreign aid for flood relief

January 9, 2023

Donors have pledged more than $8 billion to Pakistan for recovery efforts following devastating floods last year. The United Nations held a conference to raise the money, with Germany having pledged $88 million.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the conference in Geneva, January 9, 2023
Pakistan is one of the lowest emitters of global-warming gases but one of the most vulneranble countries prone to impact of climate changeImage: Denis Balibouse/REUTERS

Pakistan received the support of numerous countries to assist it with reconstruction efforts on Monday, with the total aid amount topping $8 billion, Pakistani Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said.

Pakistan was devastated by floods last year and held a joint conference on Monday with the United Nations to raise money for reconstruction efforts.

The flood-torn nation asked countries for $8 billion over the next three years and said it could cover the rest, which would also be another $8 billion.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the country received $8.57 billion by the end of the day, with the Islamic Development Bank based in Saudi Arabia having pledged the highest amount at $4.2 billion.

What to know about the conference 

The United Nations and Pakistan jointly held a conference to raise money for Pakistan's reconstruction efforts following devastating floods last year.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif joined UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the one-day conference in Geneva, calling upon leaders to assist his country with recovery and reconstruction aid.

Torrential rains and flooding during the monsoon season last year dealt a severe blow to Pakistan — the rains killed at least 1,700 people and wiped out thousands of acres of crops and livelihoods.

The deadly rains also displaced another 33 million people and raised fears of a public health crisis. With inflation and higher food prices, the number of people facing the prospect of food insecurity doubled to 14.6 million, according to the UN.

Which countries have pledged support?

The president of the Islamic Development Bank, which is based in Saudi Arabia, announced $4.2 billion in aid over the next three years for Pakistan. 

Muhammad Al Jasser, the president of the bank told the conference that the money was part of "contributing to the achievement of Pakistan's climate resilience and development objectives."

The European Union said in a statement it would provide €87 million (roughly $93 million) to Pakistan to strengthen "green inclusive growth and employable skills."

Germany pledged €84 million to support Pakistan with its recovery efforts. 

Jochen Flasbarth, the state secretary in the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, said his country was sending "a signal that will hopefully have an effect." German pledged €67 million to rebuild infrastructure last year.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who attended the conference virtually, said his country would support Pakistan with a fresh contribution of €10 million in emergency aid, and inject €360 million into the French development agency to help Pakistan rebuild and adapt to climate change.

A senior official from the US development agency, USAID, said Washington would provide an additional $100 million as well.

Pakistan says it needs billions in aid, UN urges support

"No country deserves to endure what happened to Pakistan," Guterres told the conference earlier in the day. "We must match the heroic response of the people of Pakistan with our own efforts and massive investments to strengthen their communities for the future," he said.

Pakistan was "doubly victimized by climate chaos and a morally bankrupt global financial system," the UN chief added.

Pakistan seeks funding for flood reconstruction

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the country needed a total of $16.3 billion to recover from the disaster, adding that his country could only cover half of that amount.

He called for sustained international support and a "coalition of the willing" for support over the next few years.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said one of their top priorities was building resilient infrastructure in the aftermath of floods. Around 2 million people have lost their homes. 

Zardari, who attended the conference, called the floods a "climate disaster of monumental scale."

Pakistan's climate challenge

Achim Steiner, the head of UN Development Program (UNDP), said ahead of the conference that Pakistan was "a victim of a world that is not acting fast enough on the challenge of climate change."

He told AFP news agency that "waters may have receded, but the impacts are still there."

Pakistan has the world's fifth-largest population and is responsible for less than 1% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is a climate-related disaster, so it's a global problem," said Knut Ostby, Pakistan's representative to UNDP. 

Close to 450 participants from 40 countries registered for the event, including representatives from the World Bank and other multilateral development banks.  

rm, nd/rs (AFP, AP, Reuters)