Ban Ki-moon seeks speedy aid for flood-hit Pakistan

Last Updated: Monday, August 16, 2010 - 00:01

Islamabad: UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon on Sunday warned that the humanitarian crisis caused by
the devastating floods in Pakistan was far from over and urged
the international community to step up support for efforts to
provide relief to millions of victims.

"This disaster is far from over. The (monsoon) rains
are still falling and could continue for weeks. Dams are at
severe risk of rupture," Ban said after surveying flood-hit
areas with President Asif Ali Zardari.

"I am also here to send a message to the world: these
unprecedented floods demand unprecedented assistance. The
flood waves must be matched with waves of global support," Ban
told a news conference he addressed along with Zardari.

The UN Secretary-General said he had seen many natural
disasters but nothing compared to the floods in Pakistan,
which have affected nearly one of every ten Pakistanis and
raved one-fifth of the country.

Thousands of marooned people were "afraid their
children and loved ones will not survive in these conditions",
he said. Ban urged the world community to step up its
"generous support for Pakistan".

The UN and the international community are moving as
fast as possible to help the Pakistan government deliver
desperately needed assistance, he said.

The UN has sought 460 million dollars for an emergency
response plan spread over 90 days and Ban indicated more
support would be needed for long-term reconstruction.

The UN is currently providing food and water to a
million people and wants to scale this figure up to six
million, he said.

Ban also announced another allocation of USD 10
million from the UN central emergency response fund, taking
the funding provided by the world body to USD 27 million.

Asked if the lack of trust in the Pakistan government
was one of the reasons for the less than enthusiastic response
of the world community, Ban said, "I do not agree (with such)
ideas."

He said the international community`s response may
have been slow because people had not realised the magnitude
of the disaster.

Zardari, who has been under fire at home and abroad
for his handling of the crisis, sought to deflect criticism by
saying that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, army chief Gen
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the armed forces were active in the
flood-hit areas.

He contended that his government had "responded very
responsibly" in the face of a massive disaster. The magnitude
of the floods was such that Pakistan had to ask China to air
drop food to 25,000 to 40,000 people who were beyond the
government`s reach, Zardari said.

The reconstruction of flood-hit areas will be
long-term affair spread over two years, he added.

Ban also said the UN and other agencies were "deeply
concerned" about the spread of diarrhoea and other waterborne
diseases.

A massive effort is required to provide medical care
and clean water the millions of flood victims, he said.

Earlier, Zardari and Gilani urged the UN to send a
strong message to the world community and foreign corporate
leaders to help Pakistan in its efforts to provide relief to
the 20 million people affected by the unprecedented floods,
which have also killed over 1,700 people.

They raised the issue with the UN Secretary-General,
who arrived here to boost relief efforts.

Zardari called for greater international support to
cope with the "gigantic task of relief and rehabilitation of
the flood victims" and cautioned that the total damage may be
far greater than initial estimates.

Gilani called on the UN to send a "strong message to
the international community, foreign corporate leaders and
civil societies to show solidarity with Pakistan and its flood
victims in this hour of need".

PTI



First Published: Monday, August 16, 2010 - 00:01

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