Diplomatic community briefed on floods in Southern Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A special briefing was held here at the Foreign Ministry on Monday for members of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations in Islamabad on the devastation caused by the monsoon floods.Qamar Zaman Kaira, Member of the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Committee, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Wajid Rana and Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Dr. Zafar Qadir briefed the Diplomatic Corps and members of International Organizations.Chairman NDMA highlighted the magnitude of the disaster which far surpassed the worst case scenario.  He informed that 23 districts of Sindh, 4.5 million acres of area and 5.3 million people had been affected. 218 people had lost their lives and 495 injured.  1.7 million acres of crop area had been damaged.

While the Government had mobilized all national resources, severity and magnitude of the floods had created a humanitarian emergency requiring support from the international community.Qamar Zaman Kaira pointed out that the nature of the floods was more dangerous than in 2010 caused by unprecedented rainfall.  In the next stage rehabilitation assistance would also be required including for infrastructure; rebuilding destroyed houses; and means of livelihood.Provision of water proof tents was a priority. Also required were winter shelter, medicines, sanitation equipment and support for restoration of basic health and education services.The entire relief effort was being coordinated by Special Committee working directly under the Prime Minister.

Timo Pakkala, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator also briefed the meeting on his visit to the affected areas. Pakkala appreciated the “substantial national effort” undertaken by the Federal and Provincial Governments and the Red Crescent.He said that the floods were extensive and despite all efforts by the government, international assistance was required. He underscored the sense of urgency for addressing the needs of the affected areas and importance of focusing on shelter, food and health.

He called upon the international community to provide urgent support.The Foreign Secretary drew attention to the appeals made by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and thanked the diplomatic community for their participation in the briefing and also thanked friends who had already announced flood relief assistance.He assured that the Government will facilitate humanitarian relief effort received bilaterally and through multilateral channels. – APP