UN chief urges rapid aid for flood-stricken communities in Pakistan
Islamabad (Pakistan), 15 August 2010 - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for the rapid delivery of assistance for millions of people in flood-stricken Pakistan, as he saw for himself the devastation wrought by the recent disaster.
Mr. Ban arrived in the South Asian nation to demonstrate the support of the United Nations and the international community in the wake of what has been called the country's worst disaster in living memory, having claimed more than 1,200 lives and leaving at least 2 million homeless.
"I'm here to see what is going on. I'm here also to urge the world community to speed up their assistance to the Pakistani people," the Secretary-General told reporters on arrival.
An estimated 14 million people have been affected by the floods, which began late last month in the wake of particularly heavy monsoon rains and which have destroyed homes, farmland and major infrastructure in large parts of the country, most notably the north-west province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
Speaking at a news conference after touring the affected areas, Mr. Ban described what he witnessed as "heart wrenching," recalling scenes of washed-out roads, bridges and even whole villages, as well as people marooned on tiny islands with flood waters all around them.
"I will never forget the destruction and suffering I have witnessed today. In the past I have visited the scenes of many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this," he stated. "The scale of this disaster is so large so many people, in so many places, in so much need."
Last week the UN and its partners announced they are seeking almost US$460 million to help Pakistan tackle the needs of flood-affected families, including food, clean drinking water, tents and other shelter and non-food items, as well as medical supplies.