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Issue #1470      1 September 2010

Pakistan: “This is a global disaster”

Below are excerpts from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks last month to the General Assembly on the flooding in Pakistan.

Visiting Pakistan on Sunday, this is what I saw: Village after village – washed away. Roads, bridges, homes – destroyed. Crops and livelihoods – wiped out. I met many women and men with very little in the best of times, awash in a sea of suffering. They shared their fears of the next wave – the next wave of water, the next wave of disease, the next wave of destruction.

The eyes see. The ears hear. Yet, somehow, the mind struggles to grasp the full dimension of this catastrophe. Almost 20 million people need shelter, food and emergency care. That is more than the entire population hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Kashmir earthquake, Cyclone Nargis and the earthquake in Haiti – combined.

Make no mistake: This is a global disaster, a global challenge. It is one of the greatest tests of global solidarity in our times.

Thanks to your help, we are feeding people, providing clean water, medicine and shelter. UN agencies, international NGOs and aid groups such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent have mobilised to support the government’s response. We are getting the aid in, by whatever means: helicopters, trucks and even mules. Nearly one million people have received a month’s food ration from the World Food Program.

Similar numbers now have emergency shelter and clean water, helped by the UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, IOM and many others. WHO is treating health threats as they arise. But the needs are great, and this disaster is far from over.

Pakistan is facing a slow-motion tsunami. Its destructive power will accumulate and grow with time.

International humanitarian organisations are straining every muscle to deliver. But they need massive additional support. Eight million people need food, water and shelter; 14 million need healthcare, with a special emphasis on children and pregnant women.  

Next article – Organisations demand protection for asylum seekers

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