|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
111th & 112th Meetings (AM & PM)
On Debate’s Second Day, General Assembly Speakers Express Solidarity with Pakistan
after Unprecedented, Devastating Floods, Urge Rapid, Generous Assistance
Say Aid Must Be Urgently Increased to Match Overwhelming Scale of Disaster;
Also Warn of Possible Second Wave of Destruction from Disease, Food Shortages
The General Assembly today concluded its two-day discussion on providing urgent humanitarian assistance to flood-stricken Pakistan, with some 49 speakers taking the floor to urge drastically scaling up efforts to meet the United Nations’ $460 million flash appeal, coordinate aid distribution with the Pakistani authorities, and — from neighbouring countries that had experienced similar natural disasters — heed what was indeed a moral obligation to quickly address the unfolding human tragedy.
In recognition of the disaster’s magnitude and the affected population’s growing needs, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was significantly scaling up its operation, the organization’s representative told the Assembly. In a revised appeal issued yesterday in support of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, IFRC outlined a plan to provide humanitarian aid to more than 900,000 people over an 18-month period.
That $73.6 million emergency appeal more than quadrupled IFRC’s preliminary appeal, he added. It would support distribution of emergency food and non-food items, and emergency shelter, as well as owner-driven reconstruction of houses, delivery of health services, safe water, and adequate sanitation and hygiene promotion, among other things.
For its part, the Asian Development Bank had dispatched a 20-person advance team to Pakistan, which would be augmented by 80 more staff in the coming days, the Bank’s representative said. Pakistan’s recovery would certainly require a huge financial commitment from all development partners and he was pleased to announce that the Bank’s support for reconstruction over the next two years would be at least $2 billion. It also planned to establish and administer a special trust fund to provide a vehicle for other development partners to channel their contributions for reconstruction support.
“We cannot remain unaffected”, said India’s delegate, noting that the South Asian region was prone to natural disasters and, throughout it, the vagaries of nature continued to take a heavy tool of human lives. While the region was familiar with the human suffering that followed, the destruction in Pakistan was unprecedented. Indeed, even some parts of India bordering Pakistan had been affected by the floods. “We share the pain and agony and fully understand the trauma and suffering that our Pakistani brethren are living through,” he said.
Afghanistan’s delegate said Afghans felt closely the anguish of their brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan were among those suffering, as three refugee camps had been largely destroyed, affecting more than 3,000 people. His country had pledged $1 million in aid, despite its own difficult situation. It also had sent four helicopters and more than four tons of medical supplies, along with 48 medical and humanitarian personnel. No one could be disinterested in the face of such destruction.
Looking at Pakistan today reminded Indonesia’s delegate of the situation in his country after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. That event had been considered an unprecedented natural disaster, and as such, he understood the scale of damage in the aftermath of flooding in Pakistan. Indonesia’s $1 million relief package for Pakistan included tents, beds, power generators and medicines. “So many people in so many places need so much […] no country can handle this situation alone,” he said. Immediate assistance should be provided to prevent a second wave of death caused by waterborne diseases and food shortages.
Indeed, as rains continued unabated and many areas of Pakistan remained submerged, Nepal’s representative said there was a clear danger of disease and hunger spreading on a wide scale. He applauded Pakistan’s Government and institutions for their relief and rescue operations, saying that the global community must now extend assistance that was commensurate with the intensity of the devastation. Nepal’s 10 million rupee contribution was an expression of solidarity and support. No stone must be left unturned to marshal the necessary resources.
At the same time, as Viet Nam’s representative pointed out effective solutions would have to take into account Pakistan’s immediate and long-term economic, social and environmental implications. His country stood ready to help Pakistan best cope with the disaster and ensure a sustainable post-disaster recovery.
Sri Lanka’s delegate said the catastrophe appeared to reflect a pattern of environmental disasters. Worrying climatic phenomena had become more frequent and United Nations agencies might need to be “revamped” to deal with overwhelming climate change-related challenges.
Broadly agreeing, Bangladesh’s representative said his country had often experienced natural disasters. Recent floods, earthquakes, mudslides, fires and tsunamis in Asia, as well as wild fires in the Russian Federation, the United States and elsewhere showed the world’s vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change. “The current situation in Pakistan in particular makes a strong case for the early conclusion of the climate change negotiations,” he said. “We cannot afford to fail humanity”.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Oman, France, Finland, Morocco, China, Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Republic of Korea, Libya, Switzerland, Russian Federation, Iran, Qatar, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Malta, New Zealand, Croatia, Kuwait, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, Monaco, Montenegro, Venezuela, Tunisia, Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Nigeria, Syria, Mauritius, Algeria, Jordan (on behalf of the Arab League), Haiti, Iceland, United Republic of Tanzania, Maldives and Austria.
Pakistan’s representative also spoke in closing remarks.
The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.
The General Assembly met today to continue its consideration of ways to strengthen emergency relief to Pakistan in the wake of the massive destruction caused by the unprecedented devastating floods.
FUAD AL-HINAI ( Oman) said floods had hit about one fifth of Pakistan with disastrous effects on the agricultural heartland. The deaths of over 1,500 people and number of those whose lives had been disrupted were staggering. Some 20 million people had been left homeless. With monsoon rains forecast for weeks to come, the international community could not afford to sit back and watch such a calamity unfold.
Oman and Pakistan were bound by close historical, brotherly relations, he said. His Government extended its full support to Pakistan to meet the immediate needs of affected people. Oman prayed for floods to recede and for authorities to start the daunting task of rebuilding, getting people back to work and providing people with clean water and medical facilities. In closing, he reiterated that Oman stood with Pakistanis in their hour of need.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE ( France) said he was shocked by the scale of the flooding and its impact on the lives of more than 15 million Pakistanis. He expressed solidarity with the people of Pakistan. The international community must mobilize massively to assist those in need and the United Nations must be at the forefront of those efforts. He paid tribute to humanitarian workers in commemoration of World Humanitarian Day, recalling the principles of neutrality, partiality and independence of humanitarian assistance. Pakistan knew it could count on France’s support to meet the huge challenges facing it. France had mobilized €1.3 million in bilateral aid to provide food, water and shelter to those in need. France would send a transport aircraft with 70 tons of shelters, blankets and drinking water tablets. It was providing transport means for French non-governmental organizations working on the ground.
France was also working to organize international military transport resources to help airlift operations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to assist Pakistan, he said. It would help improve prevention, planning and management of natural disasters in Asia. The international community must rapidly commit in a sustainable way to help Pakistan rebuild. The extent of the damage to telecommunications, infrastructure and public services would not be known until after the rains ended. The international community must also continue its commitment to reform in Pakistan. The stability of the region was at stake, as was the success of collective actions in Afghanistan. During the April 2009 pledging conference in Tokyo, France pledged $300 million, half of which had been disbursed in economic development projects in water and energy in Pakistan. It was also rehabilitating a hydroelectric power plant and a water station that would help improve access to drinking water. The European Union and Pakistan had forged a global partnership that must be strengthened.
JANNE TAALAS ( Finland), aligning himself with the European Union, said the catastrophic floods in Pakistan had provoked strong feelings of sympathy. Well-coordinated, timely and extensive international support was vital in dealing with such a huge humanitarian crisis. In 2010, Finland had allocated €5.7 million of humanitarian assistance to Pakistan, with its contribution channelled through the United Nations and Finnish non-governmental organizations. Of that, some €4.4 million was new funding, earmarked to support flood victims, notably through the World Food Programme (WFP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Finnish Red Cross and FinChurchAid.
In addition, Finland contributed as a European Union member and through multilateral channels, he said. Relief personnel of the Finnish Red Cross were on the ground and FinChurchAid was also sending personnel. Besides humanitarian aid, Finland had announced a €3 million commitment to the Multi Donor Trust Fund for the reconstruction and development of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier, which was important, as Pakistan played a crucial role in securing regional stability. The catastrophe could affect internal stability. To reduce that risk, Pakistan needed all possible help, now and in the near future.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said the tragic situation in Pakistan demanded attention. Recalling the exceptional fraternal relations that existed between the Moroccan and Pakistani peoples, he said his Government had decided to allocate $1 million in humanitarian aid, and another same-sized tranche of humanitarian aid in the form of medicines and pharmaceutical products. Beyond the scope of the natural disaster, he expressed hope that the Pakistani people would be able to garner the strength to overcome such a gruelling ordeal.
Though Morocco had expressed satisfaction last week with the launch of the emergency appeal, the $460 million called for was far from meeting the needs of the affected people. He expressed hope that solidarity would increase and that assistance would alleviate the burden of the Pakistani authorities, which had to face other challenges as well. Natural disasters required urgent, collective and responsible action. The global community must identify timely remedies. Recalling an earlier proposal to that effect, the establishment of an African-Asian mechanism would allow for a better understanding of natural disasters. In closing, he urged Member States to live up to their humanitarian duty and provide proof that all nations were united in that endeavour.
LI BAODONG ( China) said the massive floods seen during Pakistan’s monsoon season had affected some 20 million people and left thousands dead or missing. Expressing his country’s deepest condolences to Pakistan, he said China had noted that, under the leadership of the Pakistani Government, relief efforts were now in full swing. China commended the timely and effective response of the Secretary-General, United Nations agencies and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support disaster relief. For its part, China acted promptly to provide humanitarian assistance to Pakistan. On 4 August, some 80 tons of relief supplies arrived in Islamabad, including tents, medicine, power generators and water purification equipment, worth 10 million yuan renminbi.
Noting that the flooding could pose an unprecedented humanitarian challenge, he said monsoon rains in the coming weeks would put the humanitarian response capacity — of both Pakistan and the international community — to the test. “We must take action immediately to pool our collective efforts and mobilize all available relief resources,” he said. In that regard, China had decided to provide an additional 50 million yuan renminbi in humanitarian supplies to the Pakistani Government. The first batch of supplies arrived on 19 August, which included 30 tons of food, 1,200 tents and 1,000 power generators, among other things. The rest would be delivered today. The resolution adopted had sent a timely and strong message of solidarity and would inject new impetus into international efforts to support Pakistan.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA ( Nepal) expressed condolences and sympathy for the Government and people of Pakistan on the unprecedented loss of life and massive destruction to livelihoods and property. But, as the rains continued unabated and many areas were still under water, there was a clear danger of disease spreading and of wide-scale hunger. The devastating crisis was another stark example of the adverse impact of climate change on people’s safety and livelihoods. Yesterday’s video presentation stated that Pakistan was calling and humanity was calling. That was an apt reminder to all to act. He applauded Pakistan’s Government and institutions for their relief and rescue operations. He applauded the Secretary-General for his personal leadership in quickly responding to the crisis and international agencies working round-the-clock on the ground to provide rescue, relief and support to the flood-affected population. The scale of the disaster was unprecedented and required an unprecedented response.
He lauded the international community for extending immediate aid to the Pakistani Government. But, he stressed that “the assistance and support must be commensurate with the scale and intensity of the devastation. We cannot fail to help the neediest people at this hour of great tragedy,” he said. Pakistan needed more scaled-up international support and funding to expedite immediate relief efforts, as well as for reconstructing damaged infrastructure over the medium-term and long-term. The international community must not leave any stone unturned to marshal the necessary resources. Nepal was making a modest contribution of 10 million rupees as an expression of solidarity and support to the Government and people of Pakistan. He called on the international community to give generously so that relief and rescue operations did not suffer on the ground for want of resources.
GARY FRANCIS QUINLAN ( Australia) said the effects of the disaster in Pakistan were likely to worsen. In such appalling circumstances, support was crucial for meeting immediate needs, eventual rebuilding and longer-term prosperity of the country. For its part, Australia had announced it would increase its contributions by a further $24 million, bringing the total amount contributed to $35 million. Beyond the immediate needs, it was essential to support Pakistan for the longer term. The crisis would continue, as would the economic, social and environmental effects. Welcoming the commission of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to develop an assessment, he also welcomed the Pakistani Government’s plan to reconvene the Pakistan Development Forum. It would be important to include in that forum policy dialogue on economic challenges, among other issues. All members of the international community must do what they could to alleviate today’s unprecedented circumstances.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) was struck by the unprecedented scale of the calamity, particularly as the floods continued to swell and more rain was expected in the coming weeks. She welcomed the Pakistani Government’s efforts to face the challenge, but also recognized that the unforeseeable dimensions of the flood imposed limits on national capacity to fully respond to the disaster’s aftermath. The international community must, therefore, provide assistance to the Pakistani authorities. The humanitarian response must address the immediate lifesaving needs and long-term recovery and reconstruction needs in the affected regions. That called for scaling up support and warranted the international community’s continued engagement, in order to ensure a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation and development. Brazil was pleased to see that donors were stepping up their contributions, but more was needed if the world was to face the challenges posed by the floods in a timely manner. He urged those in a position to contribute to do so.
Brazil had contributed $1 million to the relief efforts through the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, she said. That money aimed to enable the acquisition of goods according to the Pakistani Government’s priorities to meet the food, shelter, clothing and health needs of vulnerable populations. Brazil would also support creation of temporary educational facilities for internally displaced persons and refugees, as well as implementation of quick-impact projects aimed at recovering education infrastructure damaged by the floods. She noted the positive contribution of schools to prevention, response and recovery efforts. Humanitarian aid provided by Brazil took into account the needs of students affected by disasters by supplying food, educational material and tents. It was paramount to ensure the right to education in emergency situations.
PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) said the scope of the catastrophe in Pakistan could be seen in the some 20 million people affected. Many more lives could be lost if the international community did not offer the required assistance. Cuba had modestly contributed to the assistance of many countries afflicted by natural disasters. Pakistani youths were being trained as doctors in Cuba. He regretted the loss of life and damages resulting from natural disasters and reiterated the importance of complying with international development assistance commitments. Increasingly, Cuba was concerned at the consequences of climate change and the increase in humanitarian emergencies, which underscored the need for a new framework agreement on climate change.
It was extremely important to strengthen the influence of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, he said, noting Cuba’s commitment to cooperating with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team. Recognizing the State’s role in providing humanitarian assistance, in line with General Assembly resolutions and the Hyogo Framework for Action, he reaffirmed that such assistance must be delivered in respect of principles contained in resolution 46/182 (1991), notably sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in State affairs. Cuba expressed its solidarity with Pakistan. The most immediate priorities were the provision of food, water, tents and follow-up on the sanitation situation.
KIM BONG-HYUN ( Republic of Korea) said he was certain that the Assembly’s meeting would be effective in mobilizing further international support for Pakistan as that country and its people sought to recover from the “vast and deep” damage inflicted by weeks of flooding. Indeed, the full picture of the devastation was still emerging, as the rains were continuing and the monsoon season had set in. Bridges and roads had been destroyed, making humanitarian access very difficult. He said the Secretary-General’s visit to Pakistan last week had been timely, and he hoped the international community would heed the United Nations chief’s pleas to speed assistance to the people in flood-stricken areas.
Expressing the heartfelt condolences of the Government and people of the Republic of Korea, he said his country had decided to contribute $1 million to the relief effort for Pakistan to be used for food, water, sanitation facilities and medication. In addition, Republic of Korea civil society and the private sector had mobilized some $674,000 for that effort. “We will act quickly to make sure help reaches people in need as soon as possible,” he said, and stressed that, while the resolution adopted by the Assembly yesterday would intensify the broader effort to drum up support for Pakistan, the task of alleviating the suffering there had only just begun. “We must act rapidly before the floods claim more lives,” he continued, stressing that the Pakistani people had the strength to withstand the disaster and that “together we will repair the damage wrought by the floods and rebuild Pakistan”.
PALITHA T.B. KOHONA (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had contacted the Pakistani Prime Minister as soon as news of the flooding had reached his country to convey assurances of strong solidarity. As a nation that had been devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami five years ago, Sri Lanka fully empathized with Pakistan’s distress. As a token of that solidarity, his Government, on 8 August, had dispatched a military aircraft filled with essential food items, while a 17-member medical team was already tending to victims. Sri Lanka was fully prepared to extend any other assistance that Pakistan might require and would continue to contribute to the CERF.
Conveying Sri Lanka’s appreciation to the Secretary-General for his leadership, he said the catastrophe appeared to reflect a pattern of environmental disasters. Worrying climatic phenomena had become more frequent and United Nations agencies might need to be “revamped” to deal with overwhelming climate change-related challenges. Sri Lanka recognized the valuable role played by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs in coordinating and distributing emergency relief assistance. With that, he called on the global community to extend more assistance to Pakistan and welcomed the launch of the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan.
ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM ( Libya) expressed sympathy and solidarity with the people of Pakistan. The floods had killed and displaced millions, and caused massive damage to infrastructure. Health-care experts had warned of the catastrophic consequences of the floods. It was one of the most major disasters ever faced by humanity. There had been so many appeals to expedite relief. He stressed the importance of short-term relief, as well as of rebuilding over the medium term and long term. He stressed the need to help reconstruct villages completely flooded and destroyed. Under the principle of international solidarity, it was necessary to work together to face up to the disaster. In its wake, Libya had sent several flights to Pakistan full of aid, including food, medicine and tents. Libya would continue to provide aid to disaster-affected areas. He expressed confidence that the international community would stand by the people of Pakistan to deal with the disaster.
JEANNINE VOLKEN ( Switzerland) reiterated her country’s solidarity with flood victims in Pakistan and welcomed the work being undertaken by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, WFP and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), among other agencies and organizations. For its part, Switzerland had supplied humanitarian equipment and personnel. Over $4 million had been allocated. In addition, over $15 million of private aid and assistance had been provided by the Swiss people. Humanitarian assistance had been provided in the form of drinking water and shelter for 8,000 victims in the Swat Valley.
Switzerland, which had been present in Pakistan since 1966, would continue to contribute to Pakistan’s reconstruction and the prevention of future disasters. She expressed hope that international solidarity would provide Pakistan with the resources and expertise for reconstruction in the medium term. Prior to the disaster, Pakistan had been facing other challenges, and there was an urgent need for humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian security must remain a priority. Climate change would result in huge damage if the international community did not act with resolve, and her Government would work to ensure that the global summit in Cancun, Mexico, would lead to concrete results.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) expressed solidarity with the Government and people of Pakistan. On 12 August, the President of the Russian Federation expressed his condolences in a letter to Pakistan’s Government and said the Russian Federation was ready to provide Pakistan with the necessary assistance. The Russian Federation had given $1 million in bilateral aid, so far. It had airlifted 73 tons of humanitarian goods, including tents, blankets, food, generators and other essential goods to Pakistan. His Government was considering the issue within the framework of the urgent appeal involving the WFP, WHO and UNICEF.
The Secretary-General’s decision to allocate more money from CERF was fully justified, he said. He lauded the swift work of United Nations agencies, under the leadership of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The international community was facing unprecedented challenges, as a result of natural disasters. It was important to draw on past experiences of providing aid in order to ensure cohesion and timeliness. In the light of the scale of several major natural disasters, such a discussion was appropriate.
ESHAGH AL HABIB ( Iran) said the consensus achieved in approving resolution A/64/L.66 (2010) was a step to strengthen emergency relief and rehabilitation in the wake of devastating floods in Pakistan. Since the first days of the disaster, Iran had alerted all its capabilities to help its sisters and brothers in Pakistan, notably by mobilizing Governmental and non-governmental institutions, as well as individuals. The preliminary $5 million pledge had been doubled to $10 million to address the urgent requirements of those in need.
He went on to say that three cargo planes and four heavy trailers had dispatched their 200 tons of food, medical supplies and other humanitarian assistance. More was on the way. The Iranian Red Crescent Society and the Emergent Aid Committee had mobilized all that they could and both groups had “constructive” relations with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society. Crisis management and cooperation were essential to the work ahead. The Iranian Embassy in Islamabad and Iran’s consulate general were ready to facilitate assistance to Pakistanis. Indeed, Iran stood firm with Pakistan and offered its full support.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) commended the United Nations for helping Pakistanis in the aftermath of disaster, but said the scale of the destruction at the humanitarian, environmental and economic levels required further international efforts. Qatar had been among the first nations to send aid, and currently, the country was planning to provide assistance for the recovery, reconstruction and development stages. Qatar’s assistance was from the Government, as well as non-governmental and charitable organizations, which had raised $1.8 million.
Moreover, Qatar was at the forefront of providing humanitarian aid in material and in-kind responses to disasters around the world, he said. Natural disasters had grown in severity and cruelty and it was important to develop a mechanism, under the United Nations’ umbrella, to deal with them. That mechanism would match the size and readiness of the Organization’s peacekeeping forces and he noted Qatar’s HOPEFOR proposal in that regard. Finally, he expressed hope that the United Nations would be able to accurately assess the situation in Pakistan, based on the immediate needs of the affected population. Qatar would continue to support Pakistan’s recovery from the crisis.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said his country and Pakistan shared the same history, topography, land mass and river systems. The South Asian region was prone to natural disasters and, throughout it, the vagaries of nature continued to take a heavy tool of human lives and material losses. While those living in the region were familiar with the devastation and human suffering that followed such disasters, in this particular instance, the widespread devastation in Pakistan was unprecedented. Indeed, even some parts of India bordering Pakistan had been affected by the floods. He went on to convey his Government’s heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Pakistan, saying: “We share the pain and agony and fully understand the trauma and suffering that our Pakistani brethren are living through.”
As the humanitarian catastrophe was still unfolding, it was incumbent upon the international community to pool its energies and resources to assist Pakistan in its efforts to rebuild and rehabilitate flood-ravaged areas. “We cannot remain unaffected,” he continued, stressing that, for its part, India would do all in its power to help. Indeed, Prime Minister Singh had called his counterpart in Pakistan yesterday to express condolences. In addition, as an expression of solidarity, the Indian Government had offered an initial $5 million package of relief supplies, including those that could be handed over to Pakistani authorities at the border between the two countries for priority distribution. Such plans for distribution would save precious time and provide much-needed relief to the flood victims and it was India’s expectation that those supplies would begin moving shortly. He added that Prime Minister Singh had vowed India was prepared to do even more and had underscored that “all of South Asia should rise to the occasion” to help the people of Pakistan affected by the tragedy.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said that, since the early days of the flooding, his Government had reached out with an initial pledge of some $75,000 in humanitarian aid. It had continued to monitor the unfolding situation in close consultation with the Pakistan Government. In addition, Thailand’s ministries of health and defence, the Royal Thai Army and the Thai Red Cross were currently coordinating to distribute much-needed medicines and hygiene kits, in the amount of $150,000. In the coming days, the Thai Foreign Ministry would be meeting with the Thai private sector, especially with Thais of Pakistani descent, to further mobilize support for the people of Pakistan.
In that connection, he expressed his delegation’s gratitude to Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, United Nations Emergency Coordinator John Holmes and the Secretary-General for keeping the international community up to date regarding the current humanitarian situation in Pakistan, as well as detailing that country’s specific relief and rehabilitation needs. Finally, he said that yesterday, the international community had marked the second World Humanitarian Day and that it was fitting the United Nations had chosen that day to show solidarity with Pakistan.
OMAR ALI SALEH AL OYAIDI ( Saudi Arabia) said the catastrophe Pakistan was witnessing because of unprecedented floods constituted the most severe crisis that country had faced. The Saudi Arabian King had urged that relief be directed to Pakistan. As such, 22 vans carrying food, blankets and water purification equipment, among other things, had been dispatched to help overcome difficulties in Pakistan. Saudi Arabia had launched a campaign to support Pakistanis, which had reached $106 million, in addition to in-kind assistance, which had been airlifted into the country. Such airlifts would continue. In rendering those services, Saudi Arabia also had decided to spend $100 million allocated for relief of natural catastrophes. His Government would continue supporting Pakistan. Such support proved that “we are all brothers in humanity” and he called on others to also provide support.
A.K. ABDUL MOMEM ( Bangladesh) said his country, which frequently experienced natural disasters, shared Pakistan’s pain. His sympathy was with the people of Pakistan. The flood victims were in dire need of food, drinking water, shelter and medicine to prevent diseases. Recent floods, earthquakes, mudslides, fires and tsunamis in Asia and the wild fires in the Russian Federation, the United States and elsewhere showed the vulnerability of the global community to the adverse effects of climate change. The world now faced natural disasters with more frequency and higher magnitude, which no single country could tackle alone. Instead of piecemeal, reactive approaches, it was time for global leadership to move decidedly to face the challenges and take proactive, comprehensive initiatives to tackle climate change. “The current situation in Pakistan in particular makes a strong case for the early conclusion of the climate change negotiations,” he said, adding that “we cannot afford to fail” humanity.
He expressed support and solidarity with the people of Pakistan. Bangladesh had committed $2 million in emergency relief. It was sending tents, blankets, lifesaving medicines, vaccines, oral saline, hygiene kits, water purification tablets, mineral water, biscuits, packed dry food and other goods. A medical team from Bangladesh was preparing to go to Pakistan soon to assist flood victims. As President of UNICEF’s Executive Board, he said on the Board’s opening day, 7 September, it would provide a forum to Pakistan to speak about the humanitarian crisis’ impact on children. Bangladesh was experiencing erratic patterns of flooding and droughts, caused by climate change. It had survived those natural disasters thanks to international aid and cooperation, a sound disaster management system and the resilience of the Bangladeshi people. But, the lesson learned was that the final disbursement of aid from partners at times did not match initial financial pledges, thus burdening the people and disrupting Government efforts to mitigate their grievances and needs. Pakistan now needed non-food items, food, water, sanitation, shelter and disease surveillance. Over the longer term, it would need disaster risk reduction, as well as rehabilitation of livelihoods, infrastructure, health, education and shelter capacity. He called on all stakeholders to assist the Pakistani people.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO ( Spain) expressed deep concern about the impacts of the flooding in Pakistan and aligned himself with the European Union. On 4 August, Spain had sent a shipment of emergency equipment, followed by a flight that left yesterday. After the launch of the appeal, Spain had disbursed emergency food aid. His country had contributed €6 million, and made disbursements to the WFP, UNICEF and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Central Emergency Response Fund had also been active throughout the situation. In the coming days, Spain’s contribution to international efforts would increase to a total €11 million. His Government would work to address priority needs identified by Pakistan and the United Nations, notably the provision of food and water and protection of the most vulnerable. His Government placed priority on the effective coordination of assistance and had channelled 90 per cent of its assistance through United Nations agencies.
SAVIOUR F. BORG (Malta), extending sincere condolences to the Government and people of Pakistan, thanked the Pakistani Foreign Minister for his briefing to the Assembly, which had allowed for a better understanding of the challenges in his country. Malta shared his call for the international community to extend generous support in overcoming a calamity of catastrophic proportions. At the same time, he commended the Pakistani Government and the United Nations, through the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for immediately working to alleviate the tragic consequences of the disaster, notably by launching the initial flood Emergency Response Plan on 11 August. His Government had decided to allocate €10,000 through that Plan.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said that looking at Pakistan today reminded him of the situation in his country in the wake of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. That event had been considered an unprecedented natural disaster, and as such, he comprehended the scale of the damage in the aftermath of the flooding in Pakistan. “So many people in so many places need so much […] no country can handle this situation alone,” he said, calling on the international community to unite and show solidarity. Interventions should focus on providing immediate assistance to prevent a second wave of death caused by waterborne diseases and food shortages.
Moreover, he said, Pakistan would need medium- and long-term assistance to carry out reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. For its part, the Indonesian Government had, on 7 August, sent to Pakistan a relief package totalling about $1 million which had included tents, beds, power generators, medicines and tons of food and supplies for children and babies. Indonesia would continue to support and work in tandem with the international effort to assist the Government and people of Pakistan.
BERNADETTE CAVANAGH ( New Zealand) said her country had been shocked by the severity of the flooding in Pakistan and deeply saddened by the unprecedented loss of life, livelihoods and the environment. Pakistan was in the middle of monsoon season and flooding could continue. The humanitarian and reconstruction challenge ahead was of an unprecedented scale. Indeed, that Pakistanis were suffering once again, five years after the massive earthquake in 2005, only intensified the tragedy.
Within days of the floods, New Zealand had contributed $2 million to relief efforts, channelled primarily through UNICEF and the Red Cross. Today, she wished to announce that New Zealand had doubled its initial contribution, committing a further $2 million, bringing the total to $4 million. That contribution would be channelled through the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs-managed Emergency Response Fund for Pakistan. The funding was not earmarked, in order to provide the greatest flexibility.
NEVEN MIKEC ( Croatia) said the wide-scale devastation in Pakistan seemed like an insurmountable calamity. He appreciated the prompt reaction by the international community to provide aid to those in need. He welcomed the Assembly resolution on strengthening emergency relief and humanitarian aid to Pakistan and the launching of the initial floods Emergency Response Plan. He supported Pakistan and said Croatia was ready to join the international community in providing assistance. Croatia had given 1 million Croatian kuna — about $180,000 — to flood victims through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). He called on Member States and the international community to further support efforts of the Government and people of Pakistan.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI ( Kuwait) welcomed the timely resolution adopted yesterday and paid tribute to the Secretary-General and the United Nations specialized agencies, which had coordinated the arrival of assistance with the Pakistani Government. Last week, Kuwait had decided to contribute $5 million. The Emir had decided to increase that amount to $10 million. Ten per cent of that sum would be devoted to United Nations agencies. There was also a campaign under way to collect donations from civil society and the public and private sector. More than $2 million had thus far been collected.
MARINA IVANOVIĆ ( Serbia) said the scale of disaster that caused loss of life and destruction of homes deserved prompt and decisive action on the part of the international community. Like many Governments, Serbia had adopted a decision on providing urgent humanitarian assistance to Pakistan. It would soon be in a position to inform the international community on the level and form of that assistance and would do its utmost to deliver it as soon as possible. It was a shared responsibility to act in a timely fashion and provide assistance wherever and whenever humanitarian emergencies occurred.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) expressed condolences to the people of Pakistan and full solidarity with them as they recovered and rebuilt their lives in the coming months. The United Nations was a constant reminder that people did not live in isolation. He assured the Pakistani people that they were not alone in their struggle and that the international community, including Afghanistan, was there to assist them. Afghanistan and Pakistan shared a long border, common languages, religion, culture and history. Afghanistan felt closely the pain and anguish of its brothers and sisters in Pakistan during the current tragedy. He welcomed the draft resolution and encouraged the international community to give generously to mitigate the suffering of the Pakistani people and expedite recovery. Afghanistan had already pledged $1 million in aid, despite its own difficult situation. It had sent four helicopters and more than four tons of medical supplies, along with 48 medical and humanitarian personnel.
The international presence in Pakistan, including the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), were assisting the Pakistani people directly and by funnelling in outside aid, he said. Afghanistan would continue to offer a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on. Thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan were among those suffering, as three refugee camps had been largely destroyed, affecting more than 3,000 people. Afghanistan’s Consul General had already distributed 1,000 blankets and it was working closely with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure those families were cared for. No one could be disinterested in the face of such destruction. More than 14 million people had lost their homes, livelihood and, in many cases, their lives. The international community had a common responsibility to come together and help Pakistan, so that the disaster would not result in further tragedy. He expressed hope that all would respond promptly and generously to any request from Pakistan for aid.
SHEKOU M. TOURAY (Sierra Leone), aligning with the Group of 77, the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said images from Pakistan were “devastating and heartbreaking”, and his country whole-heartedly joined consensus on the Assembly’s resolution on the matter. Commending the Secretary-General’s leadership in helping to alleviate the suffering of affected populations, he also thanked those States and humanitarian organizations that had committed to supporting Pakistan at this difficult moment. He reiterated Sierra Leone’s support for the spirit and objectives of the resolution and pledged his country’s “unflinching moral and spiritual support to our Pakistani brothers and sisters”. In closing, he expressed hope that those who had lost their loved ones would find the will to overcome the impacts of the destruction caused by the floods.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) expressed his condolences to Pakistan’s Government and people. The Malaysian Government had donated $1 million to Pakistan in the wake of the floods as a manifestation of its solidarity and support for the victims. The cash contribution was made on 12 August in Kuala Lumpur. In addition, Malaysia had provided assistance in kind to flood victims. At the non-governmental organizational level, a team from Mercy Malaysia was in Pakistan. The team, in collaboration with the Pakistan International Medical Association, had set up two clinics in Nowshera and Charsadda districts to help those in need of medical treatment. He supported the Assembly’s draft resolution.
VALÉRIE S. BRUELL-MELCHIOR ( Monaco) conveyed her country’s solidarity and heartfelt sympathy with those affected by the floods in Pakistan. Indeed, the Secretary-General had recounted the alarming situation faced by Pakistanis. Welcoming the adoption of the resolution, which included mention of the Initial Emergency Response Plan, she called for meeting the United Nations appeal and expressed support for meeting the pressing needs of 20 million people. Monaco would contribute €100,000 to the general efforts, notably to meet health emergencies and combat the spread of waterborne disease.
MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro), expressing his sincerest sympathy with Pakistanis, said he welcomed the Assembly’s meeting at hand. He expressed strong support for the resolution adopted and commended the United Nations agencies and mechanisms in the provision of support to Pakistanis. Indeed, Pakistan was witnessing one of the gravest ever natural disasters. It was a great test for the international community to assist the country, as well as in efforts to build a prosperous Pakistan. Montenegro decided to grant €50,000 for emergency needs. It was symbolic of his country’s solidarity with Pakistan. His Government was strongly committed to strengthening the coordination of United Nations humanitarian assistance.
VERÓNICA CALCINARI VAN DER VELDE ( Venezuela) said yesterday’s video showed the precarious situation of the people of Pakistan. She expressed deepest solidarity with Pakistan over the devastating floods, and offered condolences to the families of the victims and sorrow for the extensive material damage caused by the natural disaster. She reaffirmed the importance of Assembly resolution 46/182, which set forth the principles of human assistance in terms of neutrality, humanity, impartiality, sovereignty and respect for territorial integrity. Such principles must be strongly respected in the framework of international assistance, she said, rejecting any attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of States. The United Nations must continue to intensify efforts towards recovery, reconstruction and development, particularly in Pakistan’s affected areas, in light of the grave socio-economic consequences. That must be done under the principle of solidarity and it must be altruistic. She expressed hope for a prompt recovery of those who were suffering.
ADEL BEN LAGHA ( Tunisia) reiterated his country’s solidarity with Pakistan, saying his Government stood ready to alleviate the suffering of victims. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the United Nations family in general, was doing its utmost to provide relief and should be commended. For its part, Tunisia had reacted since the beginning and had sent a planeload of relief aid to victims. Another plane should arrive today. As international relations should be based on solidarity, his Government had decided to contribute another $1 million towards relief efforts.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile), on behalf of the Rio Group, added his voice to the expressions of solidarity to the people and Government of Pakistan. He also supported the statement by the Non-Aligned Movement, and said Chile attached great value to international support in the face of the devastating effects of natural disasters. That was why Chile wished to contribute to support efforts to Pakistan, even if such efforts must be undertaken within the limitations imposed on Chile by the consequences of the earthquake that had struck the country at the beginning of the year. As a symbol of solidarity, Chile would make a $5,000 contribution to the initial floods Emergency Response Plan.
AUGUSTINE U. NWOSA (Nigeria), noting that 1,600 people had lost their lives and 20 million people had been affected by flooding in Pakistan, said urgent action was required to provide humanitarian assistance, especially to the 3.5 million children further threatened by disease and hunger. The global community must come up with strategic plans that focused on immediate delivery and reconstruction. Sustained action was needed also to pre-empt a secondary calamity in the form of diarrhoea, cholera and other deadly disease symptomatic of living in make-shift camps and seriously challenged environments. Commending the Secretary-General’s visit to Pakistan, he said the launch of the $459 million emergency appeal was an urgent distress call underlining the need for robust action.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) expressed condolences to the people of the brotherly country of Pakistan. He supported the Assembly resolution, saying it reflected the real meaning of international solidarity to deal with natural disasters and climate change. Syria had hosted in Damascus an important visit by the Pakistan President during the peak of the crisis. Syria’s President had sent a cargo plane with 35 tons of food, medical supplies and other relief to Pakistan. He expressed confidence that Pakistan would be able to rise again strongly and to rehabilitate and reconstruct. He was fully confident in the strength of Pakistan’s Government and people, and the positive outcome of international solidarity with Pakistan. He expressed sadness and sorrow over the material damage in Pakistan and condolences with the victims during the holy month of Ramadan.
SOMDUTH SOBORUN (Mauritius), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that, for millions of farmers in Pakistan, monsoon rains were normally eagerly awaited with a view to reaping a good harvest. This year, they proved destructive, affecting some 62,000 square miles of land and killing 1,600 people. The situation was becoming more perilous by the hour. Waterborne disease was spreading rapidly and food shortage was now a major concern. In the face of the overwhelming magnitude of the flooding, there was an urgent need to mobilize efforts to assist affected populations. “Now is the time to show our solidarity with the people of Pakistan,” he stressed. In that spirit, his Government had decided to contribute $300,000 to the reconstruction process. Moreover, a flash appeal would be launched on 26 August to facilitate in-kind contributions by the Mauritius people.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) lauded the Secretary-General’s efforts to mobilize the United Nations and the international community to move as fast as possible to deliver needed aid. Algeria was very saddened by the loss of life and suffering of the Pakistani population. He expressed condolences to the victims. The Assembly was here to share sympathy and solidarity with the people and Government of Pakistan at this difficult juncture. He echoed the call made to the international community to address Pakistan’s urgent needs. Algeria had already provided $1 million in aid to Pakistan.
MOHAMMAD ABDO ABD ELKARIM TARAWNEH (Jordan), speaking on behalf of the Arab League, expressed solidarity with the people and Government of Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods and reaffirmed his delegation’s full support for the resolution adopted by the Assembly yesterday on strengthening international assistance to Pakistan. The floods that had hit that country had now affected some 20 million people, covering vast areas of land, making it difficult for Pakistan, or any Government, to handle alone.
The Arab League called on the international community to step up its efforts to assist Pakistan and to ensure that such efforts were well coordinated and sustainable, because Pakistan would continue to need assistance in the days and months ahead. In his national capacity, he noted that the Jordanian Government dispatched a medical team and other specialists to Pakistan to help it stave off the spread of waterborne diseases. Jordan would urge special attention to cholera, polio and all such opportunistic or endemic infections disease that spread in such crises.
JEAN CLAUDY PIERRE ( Haiti) welcomed the consensus adoption yesterday by the Assembly of a resolution calling for scaling up assistance and support for flood-stricken Pakistan. The devastating floods had caused loss of lives and livelihoods and had led to major displacement and damage to infrastructure. Haiti remembered kindly the assistance provided by the Pakistan Government in the wake of the deadly January earthquake. Although Haiti was still encountering difficulties with reconstruction and rehabilitation in the wake of that unprecedented natural disaster, the Haitian Government and people would express solidarity with Pakistan. It was worth noting that, in the first six months of the year, many countries over that short period had been hit by natural disasters. Because they were developing countries, they did not have the capacity to cope with the damages those disasters had wrought. Therefore, the international community must work with those countries, as it had with Haiti after the deadly January earthquake.
GUNNAR PÁLSSON ( Iceland) said the catastrophic events that devastated up to 20 million people and claimed the lives of more than 1,600 were among the most dramatic of their kind in living memory. He expressed Iceland’s condolences and sympathy to the Government and people of Pakistan for the loss of life and suffering. He pledged to fully support the international relief effort now under way and he welcomed adoption of the Assembly resolution yesterday. Iceland had decided to release $125,000 to the WFP in addition to $64,000 through various non-governmental organizations. The Icelandic Red Cross had disbursed $28,000. The Red Cross and UNICEF had launched a fundraising effort among the Icelandic public.
MODEST J. MERO (United Republic of Tanzania) commended the commitment expressed and assistance offered to mitigate the effects of the human tragedy in Pakistan. It was encouraging to learn that the Secretary-General had visited Pakistan to assess the extent of the damage. His Government and people expressed their deepest sorrow at the severe floods which had caused tremendous human loss, infrastructure damage and population dislocation. Welcoming the resolution adopted yesterday, he said his country offered moral support to all efforts, as requested by the Secretary-General, with a view to finding solutions. With that, he called on the global community to do everything in its power to augment current efforts and deny “opportunistic entities” from taking undue advantage of the crisis.
ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMED ( Maldives) said that, in support of the Pakistani Government and people, his Government had already pledged some 3 million Pakistani rupees towards the relief efforts being undertaken by the authorities there. In addition, both the President and Vice-President of Maldives had called on the Maldivian people to be forthcoming and generous in extending all assistance possible “to our brothers and sisters in Pakistan in their greatest hour of need”.
He went on to say that what was unfolding in Pakistan was a reminder of the alarming frequency and ferocity of natural disasters. Indeed, we may now be living in a world where such phenomena, exacerbated by climate change, were becoming more frequent and could drive millions of people from their homes. The consequences of such events in developing countries would be especially devastating, because such nations lacked resources and coping mechanisms. Finally, he said that Maldives recognized the efforts already undertaken by the Pakistani Government to provide relief to the affected populations. At the same time, it would urge that such efforts, in cooperation with the international community, be intensified to ensure immediate, short-, medium- and long-term support.
BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) said that, as a nation having experienced frequent and highly destructive natural calamities in the past, Viet Nam expressed its condolences and sympathy to the people and Government of Pakistan. He paid tribute to their courage, endurance and resilience in quenching the floods, taking care of the immediate needs of those affected and preparing for possible future eventualities. He appreciated the solidarity, cooperation and aid given to the Pakistani people by the international community, especially through pledges and commitments made during the current Assembly meeting. Effective solutions to the disaster’s consequences would have to take into account its immediate and long-term economic, social and environmental implications. He reiterated Viet Nam’s commitment to humanitarian operations and said Viet Nam stood ready to help the Pakistani people best cope with the disaster and ensure an early recovery and sustainable post-disaster recovery.
CHRISTIAN EBNER ( Austria) expressed condolences to the people and Government of Pakistan. A disaster of this magnitude demanded a global response, with the United Nations at its centre. Austria was finalizing a €5 million humanitarian aid package. The aid would be channelled through the United Nations, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other humanitarian organizations. He expressed solidarity with the people and Government of Pakistan.
MARWAN JILANI, Permanent Observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to the United Nations, expressed condolences and sympathy to the people and Government of Pakistan. The devastating flood was unprecedented and required a massive, immediate response. The IFRC field assessment team and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society were conducting detailed assessments to help design a multisectoral plan of action to address the affected population’s urgent needs for relief, emergency health services and shelter, as well as longer-term recovery needs, including the restoration of livelihoods. In recognition of the disaster’s magnitude and the affected population’s growing needs, the IFRC was significantly scaling up its operation.
In a revised appeal issued yesterday in support of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, the IFRC outlined a plan to provide humanitarian aid to more than 900,000 people over an 18-month period, he said. That $73.6 million emergency appeal more than quadrupled IFRC’s preliminary appeal. It would support distribution of emergency food and non-food items, and emergency shelter, as well owner-driven reconstruction of houses, the delivery of health services, safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene promotion, and early recovery support through livelihood interventions for 150,000 families.
IFRC’s Secretary-General, who visited Pakistan last week, said it was one of the worst disasters he had ever witnessed and that all must work together to meet the huge challenges ahead. Coordination of humanitarian actors was essential. As an auxiliary of the Government, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society had a long-standing relationship with the National Disaster Management Authority, and it liaised closely with provincial and district-level disaster management authorities. The IFRC, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and partner national societies were also coordinating with other humanitarian organizations, including through the cluster system. He stressed the need to address the impact of extreme weather events on the most vulnerable, to invest in disaster risk reduction to enhance preparedness and build community resilience.
CHRISTOPHER MACCORMAC, Resident Director-General, North American representative office, Asian Development Bank, described the harrowing conditions and unfolding tragedy in Pakistan, and said that, beyond the initial relief efforts under way, that country faced a “long and hard road to recovery”. Clearly, the recovery effort must be well coordinated at all levels, starting with the damage and needs assessment. The Asian Development Bank and the World bank had been asked to lead that exercise, in close coordination with the Pakistani Government, the United Nations and other partners. The Asian Development Bank had already dispatched a 20-person advance team to Pakistan that would be augmented by 80 more staff in the coming days. His organization would lead the assessment in seven sectors: public administration; transport and communication; energy; irrigation; water and sanitation; health; and social protection. It would also lead in designing the overall implementation arrangements for the reconstruction efforts.
He went on to say that the recovery would certainly require a huge financial commitment from all development partners and he was pleased to announced that the Bank’s support for reconstruction over the next two years would be at least $2 billion. It also planned to establish and administer a special trust fund to provide a vehicle for other development partners to channel their contributions for reconstruction support. He added that, to meet urgent needs, the Bank had approved a grant of $3 million from the Asia-Pacific Disaster Response Fund. “The future of 20 million Pakistani people depends on our decisive, substantial and effective assistance,” he said.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan) said in the past three weeks, three more districts in Pakistan had come under water. The figure of people affected was no longer 20 million. It was now closer to 22 million. He thanked the Secretary-General for his deep commitment to help Pakistan and to the General Assembly President for his deep interest in the welfare of the Pakistani people. The Secretary-General had worked hard to rally the world to come to Pakistan’s aid. The floods were one of the great natural disasters of history. Many asked why there were only 1,500 casualties. The truth was that the full number of the dead was still unknown, since there was currently no access to the rivers where many more dead people were presumed to be. Pakistan had accepted its neighbours’ help. He thanked the ICRC for its role and the efforts of the Asian Development Bank to raise $2 billion for Pakistan’s needs. Much more would be needed, but that was a good beginning.
To critics of the United Nations, he said they should go to Pakistan to see that the Organization and its agencies were within 48 hours available to assist the country and people on the ground, he said. He thanked the Secretary-General for his compassion for Pakistan. He expressed hope that the current scepticism would produce more transparency in the handling of the disaster relief effort. The United Nations was coordinating efforts on the ground, with the oversight as well of Pakistani agencies.
* *** *For information media • not an official record