UN humanitarian chief begins second visit to flood-hit Pakistan

2 December 2010

The United Nations humanitarian chief arrived today in Pakistan for her second visit to the South Asian nation since it was struck by one of the worst floods in history four months ago.

The country is still recovering from the heavy monsoon rains and floods that occurred in late July and early August. The disaster affected an estimated 18 million people, killed nearly 2,000 and caused $9.7 billion in damages to infrastructure, homes, crops and livestock.

The three-day mission by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos is intended to highlight “a continued unified commitment” to the people of Pakistan during their time of need, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Humanitarian work is about reaching people affected by crises, providing emergency assistance, and supporting them through the most difficult time,” said Ms. Amos. “Sadly, these difficult times are not over yet and much of the work is still ahead.”

Ms. Amos, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, will travel to Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two of the provinces hardest hit by the disaster.

She is scheduled to meet with senior Pakistani officials, including the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Economic Affairs and the head of the National Disaster Management Authority, and representatives of the UN and non-governmental organizations.

This is the second mission to Pakistan for Ms. Amos, who visited the country in early September during her first few days on the job as the UN humanitarian chief.

Four months after the tragedy, millions of people have access to safe drinking water, sanitation, food, and emergency shelter thanks to the efforts of the Government, UN agencies and humanitarian partners.

The $2 billion appeal for aid for Pakistani flood victims, the largest-ever launched by the UN and its partners for a natural disaster, is currently 49 per cent funded. Launched in September, the appeal seeks funding for projects in areas such as agriculture, education, food, health, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene.

“What we have is sufficient for the immediate future, and I would like to thank our donors,” said Ms. Amos. “But we all need to do more. We must work together to help people to get back on their feet as soon as possible and assist them to resume their livelihoods.”

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One hundred days into Pakistan’s worst ever flooding crisis, United Nations humanitarian coordinators are drawing attention to the plight of the millions of Pakistanis who remain in urgent need of support, following the rains and floods which swept away entire communities.