UNITED NATIONS, Nov 22: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to the people living in the high mountains in the earthquake affected areas of Kashmir valley, to come down “so that we can look after them”. Mr Annan, who returned to New York after attending the donors conference in Pakistan, said: “We still have about 200,000 people in the mountains who haven’t come down, in very difficult locations and we are trying to get supplies to them by helicopter and also preparing for them, if they decide to come down, so that we can look after them.”
“What was encouraging is the way the Pakistani people have responded to the needs of their fellow citizens” said the UN Chief adding “but I also saw the pain in the eyes of young people, young orphaned children, boys and girls with emptiness in their eyes and the trauma they have gone through, and they are going to need quite a bit of help.
A group of UN experts while warmly welcoming Saturday’s international donors’ conference for Pakistan’s recovery warned on Tuesday that the vast majority of pledges are earmarked for long-term recovery even as operations remain in the critical rescue and assistance phase.
“Even in the face of such generosity, the risk of a second humanitarian disaster looms large,” the experts said in a statement on the $5.8 billion pledged. “More lives are at risk today than the 74,000 originally claimed by the earthquakes. Donors must not rest content with the outcome of Saturday’s conference.
“In order to save lives today, these pledges must be fulfilled immediately. Moreover, donors must allow flexibility in use of the funds,” they added of the quake which beyond the dead and injured left up to 3 million people homeless.
“We remind donors that with winter fast approaching and life-saving resources scarce, tens of thousands of earthquake survivors face death, hunger and disease as well as prolonged displacement and homelessness,” they declared.
“Serious outbreaks of acute diarrhoea and disease highlight the need for increased efforts to provide safe water and sanitation in makeshift camps, and to ensure access to health services for vulnerable populations.”
The experts signing the statement were: Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Walter Kälin; special rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Miloon Kothari; special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt; special rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Muñoz Villalobos; and special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler.
Under international human rights law, states bear the primary responsibility for protecting the human rights of their populations, in particular their access to food, water, health services, education, adequate housing, etc., and this responsibility extends to natural disasters, they noted.