UN Special Envoy to Pakistan Visits Flood-Stricken Sindh Six Months into the Flood Crisis

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 21 Jan 2011
(Islamabad/Geneva/New York: 21 January 2011): Almost six months after the devastating floods hit Pakistan in July last year, the United Nations is continuing its commitment to assist millions of people in need. The Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Assistance to Pakistan, Mr Rauf Engin Soysal, has just concluded a two-day visit to Sindh Province, where more than seven million people were affected during the height of the flood crisis. "During my visit I was pleased to see that the humanitarian community is continuing its tireless effort to help the people in need in Pakistan. In close cooperation with the federal, provincial and district authorities, the United Nations and non-governmental organisations are providing emergency relief as well as early recovery assistance, which is urgently needed for the long-term recovery of the country," Mr Soysal said during his visit to Larkana and Sukkur.

The high-level delegation, which was accompanied by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, Timo Pakkala, and the OCHA Head of Office, Manuel Bessler, met with provincial government officials and District Coordination Officers (DCOs), and conducted separate meetings with the Chief Minister, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, and the Governor of Sindh, Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan.

The discussions focused on how to strengthen the capacity of the authorities to cope with such disasters in the future as well as the complexity of the current humanitarian situation in Sindh, where everything from emergency relief to early recovery and reconstruction is high in demand. "Providing early recovery and reconstruction assistance in this phase is very complex, and a lot of work still needs to be done," Mr Pakkala said. The delegation also expressed their gratitude for the excellent cooperation with the government at federal, provincial and community level.

After the waters had inundated the province, which experienced several flash floods due to the swollen Indus River that runs from North to South, more than one million people were displaced in Sindh alone. "Delivering relief assistance to Sindh was a huge challenge as the disaster was of an unprecedented scale," Mr Soysal reiterated.

Currently, around two million people are receiving food assistance on a monthly basis in Sindh, and hundreds of thousands of families have been provided with emergency shelter to bridge the gap between temporary and permanent housing. "Even though more than 1.4 million people have returned to their homes in the province, many of them have not been able to move into their houses. Numerous buildings are still flooded or too unstable to live in and the affected families continue to be in need of food, tents and plastic sheets," Mr Soysal continued.

In addition to providing shelter, thousands of farmers, who have lost their crops in the raging waters, also need longer term assistance. Mr Soysal saw several sites near the town of Larkana, where destruction was evident as the former arable land is covered in a thick layer of silt. "In Sindh alone, 2.5 million acres of crops were destroyed by the floods and it will take years for the land to recover. Assistance in agriculture is also important for long-term food security," Mr Soysal concluded.

Mr Soysal's visit has once again emphasised the UN's commitment to assist the flood-affected provinces in Pakistan. After having visited Punjab in August last year, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, expressed his deep shock about the devastation stating that he had never seen a disaster of such a scale. His trip to Pakistan was closely followed by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, who visited the conflict-affected population in Pakistan twice - in September and December last year. During her December visit, Ms Amos emphasised that the emergency was 'far from over' and urged the international community not to let the floods in Pakistan become a forgotten crisis.

In September last year, the United Nations launched the Floods Relief and Early Recovery Response Plan, which after a first revision is requesting $1.96 billion. So far, 56.1 percent of the funding requirements, or $1.1 billion, has been received.

For further information, please call: OCHA Islamabad: Stacey Winston, +92 300 8502690, winston@un.org, Billi Bierling, +92 346 856 3656, bierling@un.org, OCHA New York: Stephanie Bunker, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 347 244 2106: OCHA Geneva: Elisabeth Byrs, +41 22 917 2653, mobile +41 79 473 4570, byrs@un.org

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