New York: The $2 billion appeal for aid for Pakistani flood victims, the largest-ever launched by the United Nations and its partners for a natural disaster, is just 34 per cent funded, and Secretary-General Ban Ki–moon today called for a generous and swift international response.
The appeal was launched a month ago, more than quadrupling the original $460 million sought in August as the full scope of the floods became clear.
The disaster has claimed some 2,000 lives, exposing over 20 million others to homelessness, malnutrition, risks of epidemics and loss of livelihood as the waters steamrolled down from north to south, damaging or destroying nearly 1.9 million homes and devastating at least 160,000 square kilometres.
“I continue to urge the international community to respond generously and swiftly to urgent relief and recovery needs, as well as to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts,” Mr. Ban told a ministerial meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, a forum set up on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting in 2008.
“I look forward to the presentation by the Government of its national reconstruction and development plan,” he added in his message, delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe, to the event in Brussels.
Nearly $690 million has come in so far, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs said at a news briefing in Geneva, underscoring that much remains to be received and warning that the crisis is far from being over.
She noted that returns in the hard-hit southern Sindh province included some 386,000 people out of 1.4 million living in camps and informal settlements, but that many people remained trapped by stagnant flood waters and required urgent support.
There are also reports of people returning home and facing secondary displacement as a result of a lack of clean water sources and access to basic services, and the situation in Sindh remains of great concern, with food, shelter, drinking water, medication and hygiene urgently needed, she added.
Ms. Byrs also drew attention to the situation in the northern Kyber Pakhtunkhwa province where a winter contingency plan is being developed under the leadership of provincial authorities with support from OCHA. An interagency security and rapid needs assessment mission is also underway in South Waziristan to ascertain the feasibility of returns.
UN World Health Organization spokesman Paul Garwood told the briefing that increasing numbers of acute respiratory infections cases have been seen in northern Pakistan, particularly in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa and northern Punjab, while concerns persists over malaria in Baluchistan.
Local authorities, UN agencies and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners are making strong efforts to respond to these threats through public awareness campaigns and stockpiling medicines in hospitals. So far, WHO and health providers, including the Government, have treated more than 7 million patients since 29 July for a range of conditions mainly diarrhoea, malaria, acute respiratory infections and skin diseases.
In his message to the Brussels meeting today, Mr. Ban reaffirmed UN support for the Friends process, which provides a comprehensive framework for reviewing progress across the political, strategic and reform agenda.
“Reform is crucial for strengthening peace and stability in the border areas and in preventing future conflict,” he said. “I continue to urge the international community to support Pakistan’s efforts to implement the recommendations of the Post Crisis Needs Assessment exercise.
“The United Nations will also stand with Pakistan in facing the challenge of violent extremism and in furthering the democratic transformation of the country. Accountable, civilian-led democracy is critical for the stability of Pakistan, the region and the wider world.”-UN News Service