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High Commissioner's Statement at The International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan

Speeches and statements

High Commissioner's Statement at The International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan

9 January 2023

Thank you, Minister, for the opportunity to speak. I will make four quick points.

First, as many speakers have said, the climate emergency is not an abstract concept to be dealt with in the future but is happening now. The calamity that struck Pakistan is an example of how it is the most vulnerable who are suffering the most from this emergency around the world, not only in Pakistan. This will only increase unless greater and more urgent action is taken to prevent climate-driven events, and also ensure financial support for loss and damage.

My second point and main reason for speaking today is to underline to all present the importance of solidarity with Pakistan and with the Pakistani people who have – from our, UNHCR, perspective – demonstrated enormous solidarity with refugees over not just years, but generations. Millions of Afghans uprooted by violence, war, persecution, human rights abuses, and yes, in some cases – the climate emergency – have sought protection and assistance in Pakistan. We must not forget that Pakistanis have demonstrated extraordinary solidarity with others for all these years and we must also reciprocate as they respond to the tragedies caused by the floods.

Third, and further to that point, I want to highlight that despite the devastation and challenges, Pakistan did not forget the refugees when it came to the flood response. While we supported the government-led response it was the government that led and ensured refugees were also helped.

Moving forward, it is critical that this focus on the most vulnerable continues. That is especially the case for the tens of millions of Pakistanis affected by the floods, but also some 800,000 flood-affected Afghan refugees who remain vulnerable. I appeal to the international community to ensure that Pakistan has the resources necessary to continue to address needs of flood-affected populations including refugees, helping them with mitigating and adapting to climate-induced risks.

This leads to my final point. There are already more than 103 million people forcibly displaced in the world today and so long as political leaders fail to make peace; to end human rights abuses; to reverse the relentless but preventable attack on our planet, this number will grow. In light of this, it is imperative that the international community remains steadfast in its support not only to the displaced, but - just like in Pakistan - also the countries and communities that bear the lion’s share of the international community’s collective responsibility to protect and assist them.

Today’s conference, and your generous support to Pakistan’s recovery plan, is another way you can do this and I encourage all donors with the means to please support the government and people of Pakistan as they recover and rebuild their country. UNHCR will continue to provide all support possible.

Thank you.