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Annan Asks Greater Support for Pakistan Quake Relief

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has toured some of the areas in Pakistan hardest hit by last month's devastating earthquake. Mr. Annan will attend a key donors conference Saturday, amid mounting concern that lack of international support could compromise Pakistan's relief and recovery efforts.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew into Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, landing just a few kilometers from the earthquake's epicenter.

He visited an emergency tent village sheltering some of the estimated three million people left homeless by the disaster.

Then, with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at his side, Mr. Annan described the impact of seeing the devastation first hand. "Seeing it, and realizing that house after house has been destroyed, with winter approaching, it is really a tragic and urgent situation," he said.

Pakistani authorities are saying at least 73,000 people were killed in the quake, and more than a thousand others were killed across the border in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Relief agencies have been warning for weeks that exposure and malnutrition could kill thousands more in the next few months unless emergency response efforts are increased. Temperatures are already dropping well below freezing in the mountainous quake zone.

Saturday, Mr. Annan is scheduled to attend an international donors' conference in Islamabad, in an effort to raise more funds for the relief effort.

The World Bank estimates that the total cost of Pakistan's reconstruction will exceed $5 billion. But so far, international support has fallen far short of that.

Pakistan has received pledges of less than $300 million for long-term recovery projects, while the United Nations has received only a fraction of its $550 million appeal for emergency funds.

Mr. Annan says the size of the disaster demands a greater response. "The figure seems big, but when you consider the magnitude of the task, it is not very much, and I hope those with the capacity will give, and give willingly and generously," he said.

The secretary-general says the earthquake is one of the largest tragedies the United Nations has ever confronted.