EU Statement on the Humanitarian Situation resulting from the Floods in Pakistan

EU State­ment on the Occa­sion of the Gen­er­al Assem­bly Ple­nary Meet­ing on the Human­i­tar­i­an Sit­u­a­tion result­ing from the Floods in Pak­istan New York, 19 August 2010
(Deliv­ered by Steven Vanackere, Bel­gian Vice-Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter for For­eign Affairs, as hold­er of the rotat­ing EU Pres­i­den­cy)

Mr. Pres­i­dent,
Mr Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al,
Your Excellencies,

I have the hon­our to speak today on behalf of the Euro­pean Union – for all 27 Mem­ber States, our Euro­pean Insti­tu­tions, and our cit­i­zens, and to also bring a spe­cial mes­sage of sup­port from the EU High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cather­ine Ash­ton, who would have liked to rep­re­sent the Euro­pean Union here today and is look­ing for­ward to the time when this will be possible.

I would like first of all to express our sol­i­dar­i­ty with and our sin­cere con­do­lences to the Gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of Pak­istan fol­low­ing the trag­ic loss of life in the mon­soon floods in the north and cen­tre of the coun­try. We share the grief of the affect­ed fam­i­lies and express our heart­felt sym­pa­thy with those who have lost so much as a result of this unprece­dent­ed catastrophe.

The Euro­pean Union wel­comes the adop­tion today by the Gen­er­al Assem­bly of the res­o­lu­tion that encour­ages the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to help Pak­istan. I can assure you that the Euro­pean Union and all its Mem­ber States will con­tribute to the full imple­men­ta­tion of this resolution.

The Euro­pean Union is active­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in the imme­di­ate glob­al response to this human­i­tar­i­an dis­as­ter and strong­ly sup­ports the efforts of the Unit­ed Nations and the Pak­istani author­i­ties as they pro­vide vital assis­tance to those in need. 

I would like to stress that we will con­tin­ue to sup­port this work as long as need­ed — the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty is in this for the long term. The EU will work with Pak­istan to mit­i­gate the impact of this dis­as­ter on the dai­ly life and well­be­ing of the Pak­istani people.

Mr. President,

The Euro­pean Union and Pak­istan share a long last­ing friend­ship. Last June, the sec­ond EU-Pak­istan Sum­mit set the basis for a strate­gic dia­logue, which includes the pro­mo­tion of dis­as­ter risk reduc­tion and the effec­tive pro­vi­sion of human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance. Before this dis­as­ter, the Euro­pean Union had already allo­cat­ed more than 400 mil­lion euros in assis­tance to Pak­istan for the peri­od 2007–2010, on eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and trade as well as on gov­er­nance and human rights.

Today, the EU steps up con­sid­er­ably its sup­port for Pak­istan and for the Pak­istani peo­ple. Since the begin­ning of the cri­sis, the EU and its Mem­ber States have already com­mit­ted over 110 mil­lion euros, and I am pleased to announce that this amount will be increased by 30 mil­lion euros. In total, this means that the Euro­pean Union has com­mit­ted more than 140 mil­lion euros, or the equiv­a­lent of 180 mil­lion US dol­lars. And let me under­line that this human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance is pro­vid­ed on the basis of the prin­ci­ples of human­i­ty, neu­tral­i­ty, impar­tial­i­ty and inde­pen­dence, and accord­ing to the needs on the ground.

In addi­tion to the human­i­tar­i­an funds, there are in-kind con­tri­bu­tions from a large num­ber of EU Mem­ber States, which need to be coor­di­nat­ed in order to max­imise their impact on the ground. This is why the Euro­pean Union has dis­patched a full team of the Euro­pean Union Civ­il Pro­tec­tion Mech­a­nism to Islamabad. 

Mr. President,

In the wake of this cri­sis, there is no room for com­pla­cen­cy. The num­ber of peo­ple who are in dire need of assis­tance is ris­ing and will con­tin­ue to do so as assess­ments con­tin­ue and access improves. In order to pro­vide the most ade­quate and com­pre­hen­sive response notably to address the food, san­i­ta­tion and health needs, all Euro­pean Union insti­tu­tions are work­ing hand-in-hand.

The EU High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cather­ine Ash­ton, togeth­er with her Euro­pean Commission’s col­leagues in charge of human­i­tar­i­an and devel­op­ment aid, is coor­di­nat­ing the EU assess­ment of both short and long term impli­ca­tions of the cri­sis. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion­er for Inter­na­tion­al Coop­er­a­tion, Human­i­tar­i­an Aid and Cri­sis Response, Kristali­na Georgie­va, will be trav­el­ling to Pak­istan in a few days to under­pin EU efforts in sup­port of the vic­tims of this human­i­tar­i­an dis­as­ter and sup­port the coor­di­na­tion efforts of the Unit­ed Nations and the Pak­istani author­i­ties. Mr President,

As we all know, access remains a major chal­lenge, and we are exam­in­ing very care­ful­ly how all nec­es­sary assets can be deployed as a mat­ter of pri­or­i­ty. In a region still affect­ed by a con­flict which has trig­gered the dis­place­ment of mil­lions of peo­ple since 2009, it is cru­cial that human­i­tar­i­an aid is per­ceived as neu­tral and in line with inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law and on the basis of the human­i­tar­i­an prin­ci­ples , of human­i­ty, neu­tral­i­ty, impar­tial­i­ty and inde­pen­dence, and accord­ing to the needs on the ground.

I would like to par­tic­u­lar­ly stress this point today, the world human­i­tar­i­an day, which is ded­i­cat­ed to all the relief work­ers, includ­ing those who lost their lives while help­ing others. 

As it is the case with­in the Euro­pean Union, coor­di­na­tion is para­mount for inter­na­tion­al actors. The Nation­al and Provin­cial Pak­istani author­i­ties are clear­ly lead­ing the response. At the same time, we would encour­age all organ­i­sa­tions to work with the UN Office for the Coor­di­na­tion of Human­i­tar­i­an Aid (OCHA) and the Emer­gency Relief Coor­di­na­tor to strength­en the coor­di­na­tion, effec­tive­ness and effi­cien­cy of the assis­tance. As we have seen in the case of Haiti, the con­se­quences of a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter may be over­whelm­ing and it is cru­cial that all actors coop­er­ate to make the response as effec­tive as possible.

Mr President,

Let me con­clude with a few words on Pakistan’s secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty. The EU strong­ly encour­ages the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to sup­port Pak­istan in a last­ing man­ner: Only if efforts are sus­tained can there be a long-term recovery.

Pak­istan will be par­tic­u­lar­ly high on the agen­da of the next infor­mal meet­ing of EU For­eign Affairs Min­is­ters at the begin­ning of Sep­tem­ber and we are par­tic­u­lar­ly look­ing for­ward to host­ing the Friends of Pak­istan min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing in Octo­ber in Brus­sels, a meet­ing that will be able to take stock of relief pro­vid­ed and plan for rebuild­ing efforts.

It is in times of adver­si­ty that we realise that true sol­i­dar­i­ty is not only about words and con­vic­tions; it is also about actions that make a dif­fer­ence in the life of people.

Let us now make sure that our sol­i­dar­i­ty is effi­cient, coor­di­nat­ed, and sustained.

Thank you, Mr. President. 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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