Statement by the Leader of Pakistan Delegation to the High Level Ministerial Meeting on Assistance to the Communities affected by the Earthquake in South Asia, Geneva, 26 October 2005

Mr. Secretary General,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Pakistan is grateful to Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan and Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Jan Egeland for their timely initiative to convene this donor's Conference. We hope that by the end of the day, substantial pledges would have been made to provide support and assistance to the affected people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The earthquake measuring 7.6 that rocked South Asia 17 days ago, has caused unprecedented death and destruction in Pakistan. The people and Government of Pakistan deeply appreciate the support and assistance already received from the international community at this difficult time.

Women and children are the largest victim of this earthquake, which claimed more than 32,000 young lives. Thousands have become orphans. More than 47,000 are injured. They may have to live with disability and psychological trauma for the rest of their lives, unless they receive immediate attention.

We are resolved to overcome this great challenge. All national resources have been mobilized. An elaborate disaster management structure has been put in place. Our immediate priorities are:

We are grateful to countries that have provided air support for transportation of the injured and distribution of relief supplies. The number still falls short of the need. Many more are needed. Survivors of the earthquake are facing death and starvation unless help arrives before the onset of the harsh Himalayan winter. Millions are still without safe drinking water, electricity and sanitation.

Provision of temporary shelter is essential for the affectees to survive the subzero temperatures. The Government of Pakistan and the relief agencies are in a race against time in providing shelter to those caught in the most difficult terrain of the world before the harsh winter sets in. Pakistan has made an urgent appeal for provision of winterized tents and blankets as well as for essential medicines and surgical instruments.

This disaster of unprecedented proportion has overstretched our resources both human and financial. Our task has become even more formidable with the continuing aftershocks, rains and landslides. The destruction of infrastructure, including roads, schools, bridges and hospitals has further reduced our ability  to respond effectively to this huge challenge.

We need your support for our efforts to provide relief to the affected population. Despite impressive mobilization of the national resources, both human and financial, the magnitude of the disaster is too great for Pakistan to single-handedly cope with it. We need support of the international community for relief and rehabilitation to be followed by an extensive reconstruction phase.

The response of the international community after the earthquake has been prompt and impressive. More than 79 countries have provided essential support in the form of helicopters, tents and blankets as well as field hospitals and medical equipment. National and international NGOs have provided much needed relief. Please accept our deepest gratitude for your valuable support. Your continued generous support would help us in overcoming the most difficult challenge in Pakistan's history.

UN has launched a flash appeal of more than US $ 500 million. Much more would be needed in the coming months and years to restore a degree of normalcy in the lives of the affectees so that they can become self-reliant.

We have great faith in the compassion and determination of mankind. The human family should not let millions die in cold and misery. Please join us in ending misery of the millions rendered homeless, and in providing a bright future to the orphaned, handicapped children facing lives of misery and despair.

I thank you.