Washington: An independent group of
eminent world leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela of
South Africa, on Thursday appealed the international community to
respond more quickly and generously to help the millions of
people affected by floods in Pakistan.
The situation in Pakistan is deteriorating rapidly.
Disease is spreading, little aid is reaching the people and
children are particularly vulnerable with as many as 3.5
million at risk of water-borne illness such as hepatitis and
diarrhoea, The Elders said in a rare joint statements in
response to natural disasters.
Issued hours before the Special Session of the UN
General Assembly on Pakistan, the statement noted that only
half the money of the USD 460 emergency appeal made by the UN
has been pledged so far.
The Elders do not usually issue joint statements in
response to natural disasters, however the scale of the
flooding, its disastrous and long term impact on the lives of
15-20 million people, and the relatively weak response to such
urgent need, have compelled them to add their voices to the
calls for help.
"I urge people all around the world to hold the
people of Pakistan in their hearts and in the heart of the
human family at this time. We should respond to their
suffering just as we responded so generously to the tsunami in
2004 and the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. This is a
disaster on a comparable scale ? and may potentially be even
worse," Desmond Tutu said.
The former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, called
on donors to speed up delivery of assistance, ensure it
reaches those who need it, and be prepared to sustain the
effort for years to come.
"Let us ensure that the world comes to Pakistan?s aid
quickly and in a sustained way. Not only is there not enough
aid, it is not reaching those who need it quickly enough," he
"The floods have destroyed a fifth of the country.
Crops and livestock have been lost as well as roads,
factories, hospitals and schools ? all the things that people
need to rebuild their lives. When the waters recede we will
only really see the enormity of the task ahead. Rebuilding
Pakistan will require resources, skills and energy for a long
time to come," he said.
"I deeply sympathise with the people of Pakistan hit
by this disaster and urge all nations, particularly my own, to
help them recover. I also have confidence in the resilience of
the people, especially the women of Pakistan. I know that they
have the courage to come out of this crisis as we have seen
them come out of crises before," said Ela Bhatt.