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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

PRESS CONFERENCE ON NORTHERN PAKISTAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

16 January 2006

Despite continuing logistical and financial challenges, the United Nations was equipped to sustain humanitarian relief to earthquake survivors in northern Pakistan throughout the remaining two to three months of harsh Himalayan winter, Margareta Wahlström, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, said during a news conference at Headquarters today.

During the South Asia Flash Appeal, the international donor community had pledged and committed 56 per cent of the requested $550 million in humanitarian aid for Pakistan and Ms. Wahlström expressed optimism that a steady flow of funds would continue. However, she did warn that without full funding the relief operation’s logistic system would suffer and that funding for health services would need replenishment at the end of January. “We’ll aim at ensuring that minimal health support can be provided and that it can be sustained over the next few months. No one will die because of lack of support through the United Nations appeal”, she said.

The Assistant Secretary-General made her remarks 100 days after a devastating earthquake rocked northern Pakistan, killing more than 73,000 people and leaving thousands more homeless. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has since made significant progress, assisting Pakistani authorities and 144 non-governmental organizations in 144 camps. Hundreds of thousands of blankets and tents and tons of food had been distributed to survivors and those living in shelters were in good health, she said. Heavy snow and rain had grounded relief flight operations since Sunday, but all ground operations were functioning normally.

Former United States President George Bush, who last month was appointed the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the South Asian Earthquake Disaster, arrived in Pakistan today and was expected to help sustain resource mobilization efforts for humanitarian and reconstruction projects, she said.

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For information media • not an official record



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