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Flood disaster far too big for any developing country to handle alone: Pakistani FM

08-20-2010 09:23 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the foreign minister of Pakistan, on Thursday called on the international community to provide additional support to Pakistanis as his country is facing massive floods and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly's plenary session on the humanitarian situation in Pakistan, Qureshi said that his country is already experiencing strain fighting terrorism, making it even more difficult to deal with the still worsening flood crisis.

"We are the people that the international community looks towards, as a bulwark against terrorism and extremism," Qureshi said. "This is the nation that now looks towards the international community to show a similar determination and humanity in its hour of need."

Qureshi called the size of the challenge Pakistan is facing " colossal" and "far too big for any developing country to handle alone."

The flooding that began in Pakistan earlier in August has submerged 20 percent of the country in water, and the UN estimates that it has impacted around 54 million individuals, and left eight million in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Qureshi told the General Assembly that one in ten Pakistanis has been rendered destitute by the emergency, and flooding is not even over yet.

"The situation is expected to get worse as the second and third waves of floods inundate more lands, and uproot more people," he said.

Qureshi also said that although Pakistan wishes to focus on providing food, clean water, and health to its people in the short term, long-term challenges are likely to be quite daunting too.

"Our difficulties do not end here," he said. "Our urban infrastructure will come under severe stress as millions of people migrate to bigger cities in search of shelter and jobs. Another serious problem, with long-term socio-economic implications, is the loss of land and potential decline in the arability of flood- affected lands."

Loss of agricultural capacity is very problematic because, as Qureshi noted, 70 percent of Pakistanis work in the agricultural sector.

To help with the relief efforts, the UN has launched an appeal for 459.7 million U.S. dollars. So far 239 million U.S. dollars has been received, not including bilateral donations given directly to Pakistan.

Qureshi thanked the UN and the international community for their efforts, but said that more help is needed.

"I wish to go back to Islamabad with a clear message for the people of Pakistan that they are not alone in this hour of trial; and that the international community stands ready to support and assist them," he said.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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