Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed to the international community, especially major donors, to respond quickly and generously to the urgent humanitarian and reconstruction needs in Pakistan, where the United Nations is trying to assist more than 2.5 million uprooted by fighting.
“We must alleviate distress and avoid putting the country at risk of a spiralling secondary crisis,” Mr. Ban told a news conference in New York today.
A recent surge in fighting between Government forces and militants in the country’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has displaced over 2.5 million, including 550,000 people who fled clashes in the area last year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“We stand ready to help the Pakistani Government to the maximum amid this humanitarian crisis,” said Mr. Ban.
The UN and its partners have so far received about one quarter of the $543 million appeal launched in May to assist those affected. Because of the shortfall, food supplies are secure only for June while drugs supplies will be depleted by the end of the month.
OCHA has warned that the lack of funding is hampering the world body’s ability to assist displaced persons.
The UN family was shocked and saddened this week at the suicide bombing at the Pearl Continental Hotel in NWFP’s capital, Peshawar on Tuesday, which killed at least 18 people, including two UN staff members.
In a statement condemning the attack, Mr. Ban noted that many of the innocent people who died were in Peshawar to carry out humanitarian work.
Among the dead was Aleksandar Vorkapic, a Serb national who was on his first emergency mission with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Perseveranda So from the Philippines, who was Chief of Education in Pakistan of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
A number of Pakistani nationals supporting UN programmes were also killed and injured in the attack.