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USAID's Natsios Urges Cooperation on Pakistan Earthquake Relief

26 October 2005

Administrator calls for international collaboration to speed reconstruction

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Andrew Natsios has called for international collaboration to address Pakistan’s immediate disaster-relief requirements and long-term reconstruction needs following the devastating October 8 earthquake.

“If we work together, combining our efforts and promptly committing our resources, we can still avert unnecessary future loss of life and facilitate Pakistan's rapid recovery from the earthquake,” Natsios said at an October 26 U.N. relief pledging conference in Geneva.

Natsios detailed a number of the relief services and supplies that the United States has offered to date, including winterized tents, blankets, medical supplies, road repair equipment and medical evacuations.  He said the U.S. government has pledged $156 million to the relief efforts so far and that private donations from American companies and individuals have reached $13.2 million. (See related article.)

The administrator said the United States will remain committed to helping Pakistan through the reconstruction process and will be sending a high-level delegation to the reconstruction pledging conference planned for November.

“As reconstruction proceeds, the U.S. will work to ‘build back better’ by ensuring that our contributions meet international standards of earthquake resistant construction to protect future generations from a repetition of this tragedy,” he said.

For more information about relief efforts, see U.S. Response to the Earthquake in South Asia.

Following is the text of the administrator’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
United States of America
Statement by U.S. Head of Delegation
Andrew S. Natsios, USAID Administrator

South Asia Earthquake Relief Pledging Conference
Geneva, Switzerland

October 26, 2005
(As Prepared for Delivery)

On behalf of the President of the United States and the American people, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the people of Pakistan who have suffered so greatly over the past few weeks following one of the worst natural disasters in modern history. I'd also like to express my country's sympathy to the people of India and Afghanistan for their losses.

We in the United States have had all too recent experiences with the devastating impact of natural disasters. As we were assisted so generously by so many of our friends around the world following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the United States pledges today our continuing support to our friend and ally, Pakistan, following this catastrophe.

I want to thank the United Nations for coordinating relief efforts in the field and by convening this pledging conference. I want to convey my particular appreciation to Secretary General Annan; thank you for convening this conference today and for all of your efforts to generate international response to this crisis.

The U.S. Government is responding swiftly and generously to this emergency. Representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of State, and Department of Defense are all part of the U.S. delegation to this conference. In addition to our U.S. government response, we would like to recognize the generous contributions of our private sector partners, including Pfizer, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Boeing, Proctor & Gamble, Motorola, AIG, Intel and Merck, who have also taken an aggressive role in responding to the crisis. The President will soon announce a private sector initiative to raise further funds for South Asian earthquake relief and reconstruction which will be lead by major American business leaders.

USAID has taken the lead in coordinating the American response, providing a total of $26.4 million in support so far, with more on the way. We have shipped winterized tents, blankets, plastic sheeting, medical kits, and other relief supplies. These supplies will provide shelter for almost 600,000 people. We have provided funds to proven relief implementers to provide additional aid, including more than $14 million to United Nations agencies under the Flash Appeal. Our Disaster Assistance Response Team and our Mission in Pakistan are working to assess and meet new needs as they arise.

Our relief response will introduce programmatic innovations in our disaster response which will facilitate the restoration of local markets so vital to economic renewal in the region, increasing family income which has collapsed because of the economic dislocation of the earthquake, giving people choice in deciding which relief supplies are most useful to them through a market-based voucher system, and restoring people natural coping mechanisms to support themselves in crisis and being the rebuilding process. As reconstruction proceeds, the U.S. will work to "build back better" by ensuring that our contributions meet international standards of earthquake resistant construction to protect future generations from a repetition of this tragedy.

In addition to the monetary and material support provided by USAID, the U.S. Military is also playing a pivotal role in the relief effort. American military helicopters have completed 390 helicopter missions, delivering 886 tons of humanitarian aid and evacuating 4,511 injured people. They are providing engineering equipment and services to facilitate road repairs, staff and supplies for a field hospital, and additional relief supplies, including winterized tents.

In addition to the U.S. Government, the American people have responded generously to the accounts and images of the devastation. As of October 20, $13.2 million had been raised by major non-governmental relief organizations from the American private sector-from both corporations and individuals. This private relief fundraising is only now beginning: we can expect more private funding over time.

President Bush initially pledged $50 million for the U.S. Government's humanitarian relief response to this earthquake. I am pleased today to announce an even greater commitment, as we better understand the scope of the disaster. The United States now pledges an additional $50 million to respond to emergency needs and reconstruction. I am also pleased to report that the U.S. military has committed to date $56 million, bringing our overall commitment to $156 million - underscoring our pledge to assist Pakistan in its recovery. We also plan to send a high level delegation to the reconstruction pledging conference in November and to participate actively in the planning and needs assessment work which will precede that gathering.

The assistance from the United States is flowing to Pakistan now. If we work together, combining our efforts and promptly committing our resources, we can still avert unnecessary future loss of life and facilitate Pakistan's rapid recovery from the earthquake.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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