Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at press conference following visit to the flood-affected zones in Pakistan

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Islamabad (Pakistan), 15 August 2010

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, good evening.

I am so sorry to have kept you waiting for such a long time, but there were so many places and so many people I really wanted to see and meet, and I hope you will understand.

(Brief remarks in Urdu)

Ladies and gentlemen, I have come to Pakistan for three reasons:

I am here to share my sympathy and solidarity with the people and Government of Pakistan at this time of difficulty. I am here to see for myself what is being done by the United Nations and what more is needed from the international community and I am here to urge the world to step up their generous support for Pakistan.

This has been a heart wrenching day for me and my delegation. And I'd like to thank President [Asif Ali] Zardari for his kindness to come with me for all of the schedule.

I will never forget the destruction and suffering I have witnessed today.

In the past I have visited the scenes of many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this.

The scale of this disaster is so large so many people, in so many places, in so much need.

Nearly one out of ten Pakistanis has been directly or indirectly affected -- possibly 20 million people. One-fifth of the country is ravaged by floods. Thousands of towns and villages have simply been washed away. Roads. Bridges. Buildings. Crops. Millions of livelihoods have been lost.

People are marooned on tiny islands with flood waters all around them. They are drinking dirty water. They are living in the mud and ruins of their lives.

Many have lost family and friends. Many more are afraid their children and their loved ones will not survive in these conditions.

This disaster is far from over. The rains are still falling and could continue for weeks. Dams are at severe risk of rupture.

The United Nations and the international community and the international humanitarian community are moving as fast as we can to help the Government deliver desperately needed assistance.

Today I have had important discussions with President Zardari and Prime Minister [Yousaf Raza] Gilani about what more we can do to help.

UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the NGOs are expanding their capacity on the ground as quickly as possible.

The people of Pakistan need food. Emergency shelters. Medicines. Clean water.

We are all deeply concerned about the spread of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases. All our combined medical capacity will be needed to provide the right drugs and care. The United Nations will also distribute clean water for at least 6 million people. We have planned food assistance for a similar number.

We want to help provide emergency healthcare to 14 million people, with special programmes for children and for pregnant women.

To do this we need more support from the international community. We have launched the appeal for $460 million for the most immediate needs for the coming 90 days.

I thank the many governments, organizations and individuals for their generous support.

It is making a difference. I have seen that today.

But 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.

I want to announce today that I have decided to allocate a further $10 million from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund, making a total of $27 million altogether since the beginning of the crisis.

And as the waters recede, we must move quickly to help people build back their country and pick up the pieces of their lives. Farmers will need seeds, fertilizers and tools to replant. Education, health and nutrition need to be restored quickly. In the longer term, the huge damage to infrastructure must be repaired. The UN will be part of all this too.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have been to Pakistan many times. This is a vibrant, resilient, and generous country. It is a nation that has stood shoulder to shoulder with others around the world as part of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The people of Pakistan have been there for so many others in their time of need. Now the world must be there for the people of Pakistan.

I pledge my commitment and the support of the United Nations through this difficult period and on every step of the long road ahead. Thank you very much.