Pakistan flooding: UN secretary general Antonio Guterres says he has never seen such ‘climate carnage’

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres has concluded his trip to Pakistan’s flood-affected areas, saying he has “never seen climate carnage” on such a scale.

As the south Asian nation grapples with increasing challenges in the aftermath of its worst ever flooding, which claimed the lives of nearly 1,400 people, including over 450 children, and left millions of people displaced or otherwise affected, Mr Guterres said he had “no words to describe” what he had seen.

“I have seen many humanitarian disasters in the world, but I have never seen climate carnage on this scale,” he said at a press conference in the port city of Karachi.

The country, which was already dealing with economic challenges amid unprecedented inflation and dwindling foreign reserves, is now facing a massive public health crisis as water-borne diseases spread, along with damage estimated to be worth over $13bn (£11.1bn).

Pakistan is also grappling with food shortages after the floods left the impoverished country’s agriculture belt under water.

Mr Guterres said he hoped his visit would bolster the support and aid that the country desperately needs, as he promised more help from the UN while attacking developed nations for not fulfilling their moral duty to make climate reparations.

“Wealthier countries are morally responsible for helping developing countries like Pakistan to recover from disasters like this, and to adapt to build resilience to climate impacts that unfortunately will be repeated in the future,” Mr Guterres said, adding that G20 nations are responsible for 80 per cent of today’s emissions.

Pakistan and south Asia are among the regions that are most vulnerable to the increase in extreme weather events caused by the climate crisis, despite their negligible contribution to the problem.

Satellite photos show the Indus River in the aftermath of flooding in Rajanpur, Pakistan this year (Maxar Technologies)
Satellite photos show the Indus River in the aftermath of flooding in Rajanpur, Pakistan this year (Maxar Technologies)

The wider south Asia region, including India, has witnessed back-to-back extreme weather events this year, with record-breaking heatwaves and changing patterns of monsoon, while the glaciers in the Himalayan region continue to melt faster than expected.

Mr Guterres said the large emitters have to end their “war with nature”, calling investment in fossil fuel “collective suicide”.

“Pakistan and other developing countries, from the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, are paying a horrific price for the intransigence of big emitters that continue to bet on fossil fuels in the face of science, common sense and basic human decency,” he said.

“Even today, emissions are rising as people die in floods and famines,” Mr Guterres continued. “This is insanity. This is collective suicide.”

Mr Guterres also visited the 4,500-year-old ruins of the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro, which was threatened by massive flooding in the Sindh province. Mohenjo-Daro is one of the world’s oldest known cities, and is said to contain the secrets of the Indus Valley civilisation and its mysterious disappearance.