UN chief sends special envoy to flood-hit Pakistan

August 5, 2010 10:15 am 

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 5 — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon has dispatched a special envoy to Pakistan to assist relief efforts in response to the South Asian country's worst flood disaster in decades, a UN spokesman said Wednesday.

"In response to the tragic flood disaster in Pakistan, the secretary-general has asked his special envoy for assistance to Pakistan, Jean-Maurice Ripert, to travel to the country as soon as possible," Martin Nesirky told reporters.

Ripert, who will arrive in Pakistan on Thursday, will join the United Nations Country Team already engaged in the relief operations and jointly assess the situation with the UN team and Pakistani agencies on the ground, Nesirky said.

The special envoy will help mobilize support from the international community to assist the government of Pakistan in addressing the urgent, immediate needs of the population in the affected areas and in planning for the early recovery and reconstruction period, he said.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that a rapid assessment of the situation in Pakistan has found that close to a million people in four districts have been temporarily displaced by the flooding, with unconfirmed estimates of two to three million displaced in other parts of the country.

More than 1,000 people have been killed by the floods and many more trapped or still missing, with nearly 100,0000 homes destroyed, and around 50,000 damaged, in those four districts, in the country's northwest, OCHA said.

Relief work by UN agencies is picking up pace, but there are still people who have not received any assistance, as lack of road access and communications networks continues to hamper relief efforts, said the relief agency.

Relief workers are working round the clock to speed up the delivery of help, and looking into options for reaching those who are cut off as a result of collapsed roads and bridges, it said. (PNA/Xinhua)

ALM/ebp

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