Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his deep sadness at the hundreds of lives lost and the millions affected by the recent floods in South Asia, and reaffirmed the readiness of the United Nations to assist the victims.
Mr. Ban “extends his condolences to the families of those who perished,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson. “He is also concerned by the economic devastation faced by the survivors.”
The Secretary-General commended the “prompt and effective response” to the flooding by the affected countries – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
UN agencies have warned of a possible health emergency in South Asia, after severe flooding left tens of millions of people in urgent need of fresh water, food and shelter.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) are concerned about the spread of water-borne diseases, viral fever and skin infections, and are providing emergency medical kits and other supplies in the affected areas.
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, UNICEF’s Veronique Taveau warned that the needs would be long-term and that many thousands could remain homeless for weeks.
Many of the affected areas in India were home to impoverished communities who suffered from poor sanitation and hygiene year round. Now, entire villages were days away from a health crisis, she said.
While water levels in Nepal have receded in many areas, Ms. Taveau said the delivery of vital aid was being hampered by security concerns and damage to access routes and infrastructure.
She warned that the situation in Bangladesh, where nearly 8 million people are affected, could worsen rapidly over the coming days.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is concerned that monsoon rains could worsen flooding in areas already affected by the June cyclone and floods.
OCHA notes that its flash appeal for $38 million for Pakistan, launched three weeks ago, remains less than one third funded. The UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan is appealing to the donor community to urgently meet the funding shortfall.