Activities of Secretary-General in Pakistan, 15 August

20 August 2010

Activities of Secretary-General in Pakistan, 15 August

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Islamabad on the morning of 15 August, after a flight from New York and a brief overnight stop in Dubai.

The Secretary-General was accompanied and briefed by Interior Minister Rehman Malik on the flight from Dubai and was met on arrival in Islamabad by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other Pakistani officials, as well as members of the United Nations country team.

The Secretary-General made brief arrival remarks to the media, saying he had come to underscore the solidarity of the United Nations and the whole international community with the people of Pakistan, who are enduring a time of trial because of the disastrous and unprecedented floods.

The Secretary-General next met Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani at Prime Minister House. They discussed the floods and the need for a coordinated response to the disaster.  The Secretary-General thanked the Prime Minister for the Government’s decision to allow international humanitarian workers to receive visas on arrival.  The Secretary-General also invited Pakistan to be represented at the high-level meeting in New York on 24 September in support of the Conference on Disarmament.

Next, the Secretary-General held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari.  The Secretary-General said he had decided to visit as soon as he received the assessment of his Special Envoy for Assistance to Pakistan, Jean-Maurice Ripert, on the extent of the floods that had devastated vast areas of the country.  He said he wanted to express the sympathy of the United Nations and international community and show solidarity by visiting the scene of floods and hearing from people on the spot.

The Secretary-General said the immediate humanitarian priorities of the United Nations coincided with those of the Pakistani authorities — food, shelter, water and medical care.  He said he hoped his visit would help accelerate the rate of generous support from the international community.  He said the floods were a disaster of unimaginable proportions, but the Pakistani people would recover thanks to their resilience and vibrant society.  The Secretary-General noted the immediate relief efforts would need to be complemented by longer-term reconstruction with help from the international community, including the United Nations.  The President and Secretary-General also briefly discussed Afghanistan.

Both meetings were also attended by a number of Pakistani Government ministers and other officials.

The Secretary-General, accompanied by President Zardari and other officials, then flew by plane to Multan in Punjab, where they boarded a helicopter to view the floods from the air.  They touched down at a camp for displaced people at Sultan Colony where the Secretary-General listened to the local people and told them the world was with them and would do more to help.

On his return to Islamabad, the Secretary-General attended a joint news conference with President Zardari.  The Secretary-General announced the United Nations would release a further $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, making a total of some $27 million since the start of the crisis.  He said it had been a heart-wrenching day, and that he would never forget the destruction and suffering he had witnessed.

Before leaving for Dubai and an onward flight to New York, the Secretary-General met members of the United Nations country team to express his admiration and thanks for the work of all United Nations staff in Pakistan.  The Secretary-General arrived in New York on the morning of Monday 16 August.

For information media. Not an official record.