UN chief Guterres arrives in Pakistan to support flood response
By Asif Shahzad
ISLAMABAD, Sept 9 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Pakistan on Friday to support its response to devastating floods and was due to meet Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and visit inundated areas on his two-day visit.
Record monsoon rains and glacier melt in northern mountains, both of which the government has blamed on climate change, have triggered floods that has swept away houses, roads, railway tracks, bridges, livestock, and crops, and killed more than 1,391 people.
Huge areas of the country are inundated and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes, while the lives of nearly 33 million people have been disrupted, the government says.
"I have arrived in Pakistan to express my deep solidarity with the Pakistani people after the devastating floods," Guterres said.
The United Nations has launched a $160 million aid appeal, though Pakistan estimates the floods have caused losses of about $10 billion.
"I appeal for massive support from the international community as Pakistan responds to this climate catastrophe," Guterres said.
As well as meeting Sharif and foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Guterres will tour affected areas during his visit.
"The secretary-general's visit will further raise global awareness about the massive scale of this calamity and the resulting loss of life and widespread devastation," Pakistan's foreign ministry said in a statement.
In July and August, Pakistan got 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average.
The southern province of Sindh has seen 466% more rain than average.
The World Health Organization has said more than 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in flooded areas. (Reporting by Asif Shahzad in Islamabad Writing by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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