UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an “urgent” global response to the Pakistan floods on Sunday as he opened an international ministerial meeting on the disaster.
The meeting seeks extra resources for the stricken country to which the United Nations has issued a record two billion dollar emergency appeal.
“I call for your urgent response,” Ban told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and about 25 other top ministers at the meeting.
Addressing the conference, Clinton said that Washington has so far provided $345 million in donations to Pakistan. American troops have also rescued 15,000 people from bloated rivers in the flood-hit regions, she added. Secretary Clinton said that the catastrophe is unprecedented and the international community should come forward to help Pakistan.
The US secretary appreciated the efforts of the Pakistani government in providing relief to tens of thousands of flood victims. She added that the role of Pakistan’s armed forces in rescue and relief operations was also commendable.
She urged upon the United Nations to come out with a comprehensive strategy to help Pakistan tackle the natural calamity. Secretary Clinton said that the international community stands with the Pakistan government in these testing times.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the meeting Islamabad could not deal with the disaster alone given its sheer magnitude. He said Pakistan is faced with a mammoth humanitarian crisis after the floods wreaked havoc with infrastructure and displaced millions of people.
He said the economy was also slated to take a major hit, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth likely to be substantially less than forecast.
He said no country in the world could get to grips with the crisis of this magnitude alone, and “we could not take up the process of rehabilitation and rebuilding without the world’s support”.
In the same breath, he said Pakistan is used to facing crisis after crisis, and this one too will be dealt with. He thanked the world body for lending support it has so far lent.
Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lt-Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmad said that 80 per cent of the flood survivors are yet to be provided relief. He expressed the fear that water-borne diseases could break out in the flood-hit region.
Highlighting the need of immediate health care, Lt-Gen Nadeem said that 5,000 health facilities have been destroyed due to flooding.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2010.