News / Asia

    UN Leader: Pakistan Floods Worst He Has Seen

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at prime minister's house in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010.
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at prime minister's house in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010.
    Ayaz Gul

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he has never seen a disaster as bad as the flooding in Pakistan.  He says the unprecedented floods demand unprecedented global support to help Pakistan deal with the humanitarian crisis. The United Nations chief spoke to reporters after meeting with Pakistani leaders and after flying over the worst hit areas in the southern and central parts of the country.

    Watch Raw Video of UN Leader Ban Ki-moon's visit to Pakistan:

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon traveled to Pakistan to witness the devastation caused by historic flooding during the past three weeks.  Speaking to reporters after visiting the hardest-hit regions, the United Nations chief said his trip was meant to share his sympathy and U.N solidarity with both the government and the Pakistani people.

    "I will never forget the destruction and sufferings I have witnessed today.  In the past, I have visited scenes of many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this.  The scale of this disaster is so large - so many people, in so many place, in so much need," he said.

    Mr. Ban said the flooding has possibly affected 20 million people and has ravaged one-fifth of the country. "Thousands of towns and villages have simply been washed away.  Roads, bridges, buildings, crops, millions of livelihoods have been lost.  People are marooned on tiny islands with the floodwaters all around them.  They are drinking dirty water.  This disaster is far from over.  The rains are still falling and could continue for weeks.  Dams are at severe risk of rupture," he said.

    He says U.N. agencies and aid groups are moving as fast as they can to help Pakistan deliver desperately needed assistance to flood victims, including food, emergency shelter, and clean water.  The U.N. leader urged the global community to speed up its assistance to Pakistan in order to speed up and bolster humanitarian operations. "These unprecedented floods demand unprecedented assistance.  The flood waves must be matched with waves of global support," he said.

    The United Nations has appealed for nearly $460 million to meet the flood victims' most immediate needs in the next 90 days.  But U.N. officials say foreign aid has been slow to come, with only 20 percent of the initial appeal arriving so far.

    The United States has already provided more than $76 million in aid and has sent helicopters to help Pakistan with relief efforts.

    While in Pakistan, Mr. Ban allocated another $10 million for flood victims, bringing the total that the United Nations has committed so far to $27 million.  He said that he would report back to the U.N. General Assembly, which is meeting on Thursday to discuss Pakistan's needs. "We will try to mobilize all necessary assistance.  And remember that the whole world is behind the people of Pakistan in this time of trial," he said.

    U.N. agencies and aid groups say that at least six million flood victims are now dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive. Pakistani officials have put a revised death toll from the floods to around 1,400.

    But U.N. officials have warned of a second wave of death from disease among the sick and hungry victims if help does not arrive in time. They have already confirmed cases of water-borne diseases in the disaster zone.

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