LONDON: Britain’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development MP Preet Kaur Gill has called on the UK government to recognise the catastrophe currently engulfing Pakistan and increase its aid from just £1.5 million.
In a letter to UK’s Foreign Secretary Mary Elizabeth Truss, the shadow cabinet minister for international development has said that it was a matter of huge concern that the UK government has only pledged £1.5 million in financial assistance to Pakistan in response to the immediate humanitarian crisis.
“I am concerned that this fails to address the scale of the devastation facing the country and its people. The United Nations (UN) has appealed for $160m, so the UK’s contribution to date is barely 1% of the total required to meet urgent humanitarian needs. As a close friend of the people of Pakistan, and with so many people across our country having close ties of family and friendship to the country, it is essential that the UK play its part and steps up to meet the scale of this challenge. What more is the UK government prepared to do to support the people of Pakistan at this incredibly challenging time?” MP Gill wrote, strongly urging MP Truss to convene their “international counterparts to coordinate and scale up a response proportionate to this crisis”.
“The speed with which the humanitarian situation is evolving demands an equally swift response. There is no doubt that the unfolding disaster constitutes a climate catastrophe. Despite contributing less than 1% to global emissions, Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries on earth to climate change-related weather extremes. Pakistan has over 7,000 glaciers, more than anywhere else on earth outside the poles,” Kaur added.
The Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston wrote that floods triggered by unprecedented rains during the ongoing monsoon season are causing devastation across the country.
One in seven Pakistanis are impacted, some 33 million people; over 1,000 people have died; over 287,000 homes have been destroyed; 719,000 livestock have died; and two million acres of cultivated crops have been wiped out.
She quoted Pakistan’s climate change minister as saying that a third of the country is now under water – an area roughly equivalent to the size of Great Britain.
“The scale of this disaster is incomprehensible – yet the humanitarian situation is set to deteriorate even further as heavy rains continue over the coming days and weeks,” she wrote.
Gill added that the flash-floods and rain-induced landslides have been compounded by the inability of existing infrastructure to cope with the extraordinary amount of water, with nearly 3,500 km of roads and 149 bridges already damaged so far.
“This is in turn impeding the ability of citizens to flee to safer areas and compromising the delivery of aid to those in need,” Gill stated in her letter.
MP Gill wrote that Pakistan was a victim of climate change and needed help.
“Once these glaciers melt, the devastation they could unleash would be irreversible. This must be a wake-up call. I have been deeply concerned by some of your comments in relation to climate action during the Conservative leadership contest. Delaying or withdrawing action on mitigation and adaptation, such as your government’s decision to cut £100m in international climate finance in July, is an inexcusable abdication of leadership given what we know global warming will cause and what we can already see before our eyes,” she wrote in her letter to UK’s government.
“Climate change will be the defining issue of the 21st century, and it is therefore imperative that this government continues to honour its international climate finance commitments and leads from the front to galvanise global action in the run up to the COP27 in November,” Gill stated, urging the government to grasp the implications of the crisis.
She concluded her letter hopeful for the government’s “swift and comprehensive” response.