The United Nations today pledged its continued assistance to the people of Pakistan as they rebuild their lives one year after the country faced devastating floods – the largest natural disaster in its history.
Some 20 million people were affected by the floods that began in late July 2010, submerging almost one-fifth of the country under water. The disaster claimed 2,000 lives and destroyed 1.6 million homes across the provinces of Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh.
The lives of millions of people were changed in a matter of days and there were numerous challenges for those who survived the disaster, including loss of shelter, crops and livelihoods. UN agencies and their partners provided emergency aid in the aftermath of the floods and have been continuing to help families get back on their feet.
The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Assistance to Pakistan, Rauf Engin Soysal, stressed how much he admired the “resilience, strength and courage” of the Pakistani people, and acknowledged the hard work and continued commitment of the country’s authorities in the post-flood response.
Speaking at a news conference in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Mr. Soysal also noted that while there has been a generous response to the relief operations, support to early recovery is lagging behind.
“We certainly need to do more. We certainly need to draw lessons… we certainly need to keep up the momentum to continue to deliver the promises we made one year ago to our brothers and sisters in Pakistan,” he stated.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, who visited flood-stricken Pakistan last September on her first day on the job as UN humanitarian chief, said that the scale of the disaster galvanized everyone: the Government, the military, the aid community, civil society, individuals and countries, who provided emergency funding to the largest appeal in the history of the UN.
“In close cooperation with the Government, the humanitarian community provided emergency aid, including food, water, shelter and health care,” she noted in a statement. “Today, we continue to support families, helping them to rebuild their lives, their homes, their livelihoods. Given the scale of the disaster, the response by the humanitarian community is to be commended.
“But it’s the people of Pakistan who showed remarkable resilience, courage, and strength in overcoming a crisis of such immense magnitude,” stated Ms. Amos. “We will, of course, continue to support them.”
The Pakistan Floods Relief and Early Recovery Response Plan launched in the aftermath of the disaster requested nearly $2 billion, the largest UN appeal on record, of which $759 million (38 per cent) has been received, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which is headed by Ms. Amos.