Press Conference

Dear Journalists,

Thank you very much for attending this press conference on a very short notice. We would like to inform you that about 30 representatives from all South Asian countries attended the Annual General Meeting of South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), which is an alliance of academicians, trade unionists, human rights activists, journalists, NGOs and other civil society members at Nagarkot, Nepal from 4th to 6th September 2010. 

The participants felt that the response of the South Asian governments towards flood relief and expression of solidarity with flood affected people of Pakistan has been extremely disappointing. 

According to official data, over two thousand people have died and more than a million homes have been destroyed since the flooding began in July from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. But, almost one-fifth of Pakistan’s land has been inundated because of floods encompassing all provinces of Pakistan. Out of a total of 124 districts, 79 have been affected by floods. These include 24 districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 19 in Sindh, 12 in Punjab, 10 in Balochistan and seven each in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. More than 20 million people across the country have been affected by the floods. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who visited the flood affected areas, had asked for an initial emergency relief of $460 million. UN estimates that the number of people affected by floods is higher than the combined number of people affected by Haiti earthquake, the 2004 tsunami and the Pakistan earthquake in 2005.

The Government of Pakistan estimates economic losses inflicted by the floods at $43 billion;  about 20 million people have been affected and 7.5 million of them have been displaced.

United Nations agencies and the National Disaster Management Authority estimate that crops over 1.38 million acres have been washed away and 1.2 million homes destroyed. The agricultural sector might face the adverse effects for another year, which may cause serious threat of food insecurity.  The destruction to public infrastructure has also been enormous. The government assessed 968 health facilities and out of that 517 have been damaged. Similarly, over 10,600 schools have been destroyed by rains and floods. 

Keeping in view the size of destruction due to floods, many countries and international humanitarian organisations have extended their financial support to Pakistan for the rescue and relief of flood affected people. But the response from South Asian countries has been quite disappointing. There is poor response from South Asian governments. 

On this occasion, we recognize and appreciate the goodwill gestures and aid offered by the Indian, Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives and Bangladesh governments, but at the same time, we regret the delayed response from Pakistan government and its reluctance to accept the aid directly from India. The civil society of India had also offered to send medical teams and medicines to flood-hit areas, but Pakistan government has not yet responded positively.

The SAARC has its mechanisms like SAARC Food Bank and SAARC Disaster Management Centre, but those were also not activated. 

We demand that SAARC play its role and regional countries establish a disaster relief fund to provide help to Pakistani people. 

 

Issued by SAAPE Secretariat 

 

Speakers:

1. Babu Mathew, India

2. Karmat Ali, Pakistan

3. Imad Mohamed, Maldives

4. Nimalka Fernando, Sri Lanka

5. Arezoo Qanih, Afghanistan

6. Mohiuddin Ahmad, Bangladesh

7. Arun Rai, Bhutan

8. Arjun Karki, Nepal