Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pakistan’s flood survivors need stronger support

UN News Centre: As the United Nations prepares to launch a revised appeal for funds to tackle Pakistan’s devastating flood crisis, the world body’s top refugee official today urged the international community to provide stronger support for the victims of the disaster. The floods, which began in late July, are the worst disaster in living memory for the South Asian nation, resulting in the death of more than 1,000 people and leaving millions homeless.

“This is unprecedented. Nobody was prepared for such a level of destruction and for such difficult conditions for the people affected,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said after a two-day visit to the flood-affected areas.

“Everybody is doing their best, but the best everyone is doing cannot match the dramatic needs that we are facing,” he stated, appealing to the international community for “a stronger engagement and stronger support for us all to do better and to do more.”

Mr. Guterres visited flood-affected Afghan refugees and Pakistani villagers in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KPK), one of the worst-hit areas. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that over 4.3 million people in the province are affected by floods and over 192,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.

“A lot of progress has been made, but the way ahead is still long,” said Ahmed Warsame, head of the provincial sub-office of the UN refugee agency, known as UNHCR. “We need to ensure that we meet the needs of all flood-affected communities and reach out to those most vulnerable to ensure they have access to humanitarian assistance.”…

A Pakistani soldier assists an older man to board a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan

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