Press Releases

    27 October 2005

    Secretary-General Warns of Massive Second Wave of Death without Stepped up Efforts to Assist South Asia Earthquake Victims

    GENEVA/NEW YORK, 26 October (OCHA) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today addressed a ministerial-level meeting on assistance to communities affected by the South Asia earthquake.

    The meeting, convened by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, in cooperation with the Government of Pakistan, is intended to provide an update on the situation in the aftermath of the earthquake, the current response, and remaining key challenges.

    The more than 300 participants from 100 countries attending the meeting will be invited to use the occasion to announce new pledges in response to the United Nations Flash Appeal, both in cash and in kind, through multilateral or bilateral channels.

    "The death toll in Pakistan is still expected to rise, but if we do not step up our efforts now, a second, massive, wave of death will happen", said the Secretary-General.

    The United Nations and its partners initially called for $312 million to cover essential life-saving programmes including shelter, food, health care, and water and sanitation.  This appeal has now been revised upwards to $550 million.  To date, $67 million has been received in contributions, as well as $28 million in pledges, which means that the Appeal is 12 per cent funded.  However, an immediate and exceptional escalation of the global relief efforts is needed to support the work of the Government of Pakistan and to meet the most urgent need of the affected population.  Failing this, thousands of injured, dehydrated and undernourished survivors, sheltering in the fields in makeshift shelters or in the open air in temperatures below zero, are likely to die unless they can be reached before the harsh winter starts.

    A massive relief operation is under way, but it is one of the most challenging ever, due to the terrain, the large area affected, and the rapidly approaching winter weather.  "We have never had this kind of logistical nightmare, ever", said Mr. Egeland.

    Shelter remains the overriding priority, and thousands more winterized tents and blankets are urgently required.  Tens of thousands of tents have already been delivered, and many more are in the pipeline.  United Nations relief agencies are also exploring creative ways of getting temporary shelter to nearly 3 million people before the onset of winter.

    Food is now reaching the main hubs before being moved on to remote locations by mule or on foot.  However, over a million people still need food.  Affected communities generally have some winter food stocks, but without proper shelter these stocks will be destroyed or will deteriorate.

    United Nations relief agencies trying to get aid to the millions of earthquake survivors in Pakistan's northern provinces are now racing against time.  The next few weeks will be critical to save lives, as thousands of people remain isolated in remote valley areas.

    For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, tel:  +1 917 367 5126, mobile:  +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, tel:  +1 917 367 9262; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, tel:  +41 22 917 2653, mobile: +41 79 473 4570.

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