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Published on Aug 24, 2010

MaximsNewsNetwork: 20 August 2010 - UNTV: United Nations, New York - A day after the countries upped the pledges urgently needed to finance the ongoing relief efforts in Pakistan, the United Nations (UN) Emergency Relief Coordinator said the humanitarian community is "running to play catch up" with the unfolding crisis in the country.

John Holmes, who called the crisis "enormous" in scale and scope, said that "about one fifth of the country" is suspected to be underwater. The Pakistani Government estimates that 15.4 million people, about nine percent of the country's population, are affected by the floods, with at least 6 million in need of emergency assistance.

Yesterday (19 August), UN Member States voiced their solidarity with Pakistan, as they adopted a resolution calling for international assistance in support of the Government's efforts to address the crisis. The meeting saw a boost in pledges increasing the pledged amount to more than $200 million.

Prior to the meeting, the UN and its partners had received only about half of the $460 million funds requested to implement emergency relief activities in Pakistan. There were reports saying that the pledging had been far less than in other recent disasters, mostly blaming donor fatigue.

Holmes said that given the enormity of the situation, carrying out relief efforts "is a massive task."

"I don't want to underestimate or minimize for anybody watching how big of a challenge it is," he added.

Turning to Niger, another humanitarian crisis in which half of the country's population is suffering from moderate or severe food insecurity caused by droughts, Holmes said that although the humanitarian response has not been perfect due to lack of funds, the humanitarian community has done "enough to avert the worst, done enough to avert that crisis turning into a catastrophe with many, many deaths particularly of children."

According to UNICEF, across Niger, an estimated 378,000 children ranging from six months to five years of age are expected to be treated for severe acute malnutrition over the next 12 months.

Holmes, who has been the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator since early 2007, had witnessed the devastating impact of many humanitarian crisis be it manmade or natural. One of his recent visits was to Haiti six months after the earthquake in January.

On concerns about the international community not doing enough to relocate people into more secure permanent homes before the peak of the hurricane season, he expressed frustration that the international community is "still a long way short of" creating transitional shelters for a million people.

Earlier this year, during this trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Holmes showed concern about the safety of civilians and the humanitarian community in the eastern province as the drawdown of UN peacekeepers began in the country.

He added that the drawdown "will leave the humanitarian community in a particularly difficult situation" especially in the northeast "where the Lord's Resistance Army is waging an appalling campaign of attacks and bloodshed once again."

More recently, three peacekeepers from the UN mission in the country (MONUSCO) were killed after their base, in the volatile North Kivu province, was attacked by up to 60 unidentified men armed with machetes and spears.

UN personal, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers often find themselves risking their lives on the frontlines of conflicts. During the commemoration of World Humanitarian Day on Thursday, the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 2008 and 2009 were the two deadliest years yet for humanitarian staff with more than 100 killed each year.

Holmes added that in places like "Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia, aid workers are being targeted deliberately" as they are "somehow perceived quite wrongly as being part of someone else's political or military or security agenda."

Holmes felt that it is important to highlight the fact that aid workers are only there to help people and do not have any agenda. "Leave us alone, let us do our job and please for heaven's sake stop targeting us and killing us all and kidnapping us because the only people who suffer, of course the humanitarian workers themselves suffer, but the main victims are the people we are trying to help," he concluded.
...... ( UNITED NATIONS TELEVISION: UNTV ) ... ..............................................................
News Network for the United Nations and the International Community.
See: http://www.MaximsNews.com.
"GIVING POWER & RESONANCE TO THE VOICE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY" ...................................................................................


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