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20 August 2010 - General Assembly - Pakistan - Humanitarian situation resulting from floods - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, chargé d’affaires a.i. of France to the United Nations

(Unofficial translation)

Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, chargé d’affaires a.i. of France to the United Nations - Plenary meeting of the GA 64th session: Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations - 20 August 2010 - UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Pakistan has been suffering from the worst natural disaster in its history for nearly three weeks now. We are shocked by the scale of the floods, the violence of the continuing rains and their impact on the lives of more than 15 million Pakistanis.

I want to express once again France’s solidarity with the Pakistani authorities and people, as well as our most heartfelt support for the victims and their families.

Faced with a catastrophe on such a scale, the international community must mobilize its efforts quickly and extensively, alongside the Pakistani State, in order to help the populations.

The United Nations must remain central to the international community’s efforts. We welcome the personal involvement of the Secretary-General, who has just visited the stricken areas, and of the President of the General Assembly who took the initiative to convene this meeting. We welcome the presence in New York of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Assistance to Pakistan.

Yesterday we have celebrated World Humanitarian Day, and I would also like to pay tribute to the United Nations teams and to the humanitarian workers. They carry out their mission in Pakistan, like everywhere in the world, with exemplary courage and devotion. I pay tribute in particular to those who have lost their lives while helping the most vulnerable.

In addition, I want to reiterate that the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian aid are key to its success. We must maintain and protect these principles.

Mr. President,

We are proud to have developed a close and trusting relationship with Pakistan over the last few years. President Sarkozy reaffirmed his attachment to maintaining this privileged relationship when he received President Zardari in Paris on August 2.

Our uncompromising bilateral dialogue allows us, today, to address all issues with our Pakistani friends, whether these relate to the fight against terrorism, the regional situation or economic cooperation. Pakistan knows in return that it can count on France’s support in order to meet the immense challenges that it must face.

The urgent requirement is to help the victims and respond to the appeal for contributions launched by the United Nations. France has already mobilized €1.3 million in bilateral aid to provide food, drinking water, shelter and medicine to the people who need it. This is our immediate priority.

France has also taken action through the European Union. I am referring, in this regard, to the speech made by Belgium on behalf of the European Union. We want it to mobilize further funding in order to deal with the scope of the humanitarian crisis.

In addition to its financial aid, France is also providing material assistance. As such, it decided to dispatch a plane carrying 70 tons of humanitarian supplies consisting notably of shelters, blankets and water purification tablets. It is providing transportation to the French NGOs delivering emergency aid to the victims in Pakistan.

France is also ready to mobilize national military strategic transport capabilities in order to deliver international aid within the framework of the NATO airlift, and to speed up the delivery of aid to Pakistan.

Lastly, France is ready to participate in the necessary international reflection on ways to improve the systems aimed at preventing, anticipating and managing natural disasters in Asia.

Mr. President,

Beyond the urgency, the international community must commit itself to provide swift, extensive and long-term support to the Pakistani government to put it on the path of reconstruction.

All of the damage to infrastructures, communications, public services and key economic sectors will have serious consequences; we will know the real scale of the impact once the rains have stopped. We must help the Pakistani authorities meet the challenges of reconstruction, at the same time as putting it on the path of reforms and the fight against terrorism. The security of its people, including the 3 million people in north-west Pakistan who have been displaced by conflicts against Islamist groups, is at stake. The stability of the region and the success of our action in Afghanistan are also at stake.

We are ready to mobilize our aid to that effect. At the Tokyo Donors’ Conference in April 2009, France announced a contribution of $300 million. Half of this has already been pledged to support the funding of economic development projects in Pakistan, particularly in the water and energy sectors. The projects planned for this year, such as the upgrading of the hydro-electric power station in Jabban and the financing of a water treatment plant in Lahore, will allow us to address the issues associated with access to drinking which are particularly apparent.

We would like the European Union to also now identify reconstruction initiatives to be carried out. The EU and Pakistan maintain a global partnership that should be strengthened. The EU can further increase its contribution to the economic development of Pakistan, of which it is already the leading trade partner.

Our efforts will also be conveyed to the various multilateral forums, particularly the financial and development sector forums.

Lastly, we will mobilize our efforts within the framework of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Group. The group’s next ministerial meeting, which is scheduled to take place mid-October in Brussels, should be the opportunity to make an initial assessment of the actions to be taken in terms of reconstruction and to ensure that these actions fall within the framework of the reforms that the Pakistani government must continue to implement.

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