Cablegate: Pakistan Earthquake Conference Leaves an Unclear

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY: Ten days after the 26 October UN ministerial
conference on aid for Pakistan's earthquake victims, there is
still a dramatic under-funding of UN agencies and other
partners in the UN Flash Appeal. While the conference netted
$579 million in additional pledges, raising the total amount
of assistance pledged to Pakistan to $1.3 billion, very
little of this amount is destined for the Appeal. Moreover,
at least forty percent of conference pledges are intended for
reconstruction projects, leaving an unclear picture of how
much funding is available in the immediate term for
life-saving activities and confusing the UN's first
(informal) effort at a "cluster-oriented response." In his
conference remarks, the UN Secretary General characterized
the response as a "race against time" to meet the urgent
needs of those made homeless by the earthquake before the
harsh winter sets in and urged donors to act quickly in
providing resources. UN agencies in recent days have taken
the unusual step of drawing up a one-month operational plan
to focus attention on immediate needs. The UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) presented these
"critical needs" of $42.2 million at a 7 November donors
meeting. The government of Pakistan estimates that a total
of $2 billion will be needed during the relief phase, and
that another $5 billion will be needed for reconstruction.
This cable first provides background on the 26 October
ministerial conference (paras 2 - 9), followed by an update
on the UN's one-month plan and a comment (paras 10 - 13.)

2. (U) On 26 October, the UN, in cooperation with the
Government of Pakistan (GOP), convened a ministerial level
meeting on the pressing needs facing the people of Pakistan
in the wake of the earthquake on 8 October. UN
Undersecretary General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan
Egeland chaired the meeting opened with a speech by UN
Secretary General (SYG) Kofi Annan. The government of

Pakistan was represented by the Chairman of the Senate,
Mohammedmian Soomro; the Minister of State for Economic
Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar; and the Federal Minister and
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance, Salman Shah.
Ninety-two countries and organizations participated in the
preceedings. The US delegation was led by USAID Adminstrator
Andrew Natsios, and included Kristen Silverberg, Assistant
Secretary for the Bureau of International Organization

Affairs, Major General Paul Patrick from the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, and Ambassador Kevin Moley from the US Mission in

3. (U) In his brief remarks, the SYG characterized the
response as a "race against time." He called for a dramatic
escalation of the effort on every front, including funding,
logistics and personnel, and highlighted lack of shelter as
the most critical problem facing the overall operation. The
SYG thanked the donors who had already contributed and lauded
the work of relief organizations on the ground. Lastly, the
SYG harkened back to calls at the UN High Level segment for
the creation of more timely and predictable capacities for
global disaster response including stand-by responses,
strengthened coordination, and a global emergency fund.

4. (U) Presentations by the three GOP officials focused on
the unprecedented level of destruction and the enormous
logistical challenges. Echoing the theme of the SYG,
Pakistani officials called it a "race against time" to get
shelter to those in need before the winter sets in. They
emphasized that the destruction caused by the earthquake has
deprived over a million people of their livelihoods and has
wiped out education and health systems. Reconstruction will
require a long-term commitment from the international
community. Finally, they stated that women and children were
the main victims of the disaster. Officials cited the
destruction of educational institutions and the unusually
high number of child amputees as critical concerns. These
children will require long-term care and special
rehabilitation programs. In sum, the GOP stated that over 3
million people will need assistance over the next six months.

5. (U) USG Egeland introduced the revised UN Flash Appeal
for South Asia which currently totals $550 million and covers
the next six months. In January 2006, the UN plans to launch
a Consolidated Appeal for Pakistan to cover a twelve month
period. The Flash Appeal divides the response into ten
separate clusters, or sectors, with different agencies to
serve as the lead for each cluster. The clusters include:
Shelter, logistics, food and nutrition, health, water and
sanitation, education, protection, camp management, early
recovery and reconstruction, and information and
telecommunications. Noting the approaching winter, Egeland
highlighted the immediate concerns, including addressing the
needs of amputees, organizing camps for 500,000 people,
prepositioning food stocks, and increasing the number of
helicopters for transport. The USG called the response "the
best coordinated effort ever," stating that within six days
the UN had deployed 100 persons, and within twelve days the
number had grown to 400. He promised a robust coordination
structure through a system of field hubs six of which had
already been established.

6. (U) The Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement was represented
by both the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red
Crescent (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red
Cross. The IFRC is appealing for a revised total of $122
million. The ICRC's emergency needs stand at $44 million.
Both organizations said that they are working closely with
the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Red Crescent
National Society.

7. (U) NATO's Deputy Secretary General, Alessandro
Minuto-Rizzo reviewed NATO's overall assistance to date and
shared plans for the future. NATO has offered to provide a
land element comprised of engineers, road-clearing equipment,
a mobile medical unit, 3 water purification plants along with
strategic airlift and, if necessary, sealift. A deployable
joint task force is being sent to Islamabad to coordinate
with the Pakistani government and the UN for the arrival of
1300 personnel.

8. (U) Kicking off a very long list of speakers, India noted
its "special responsibility" as a neighbor to assist
Pakistan. India is creating a $25 million relief fund that
the government of Pakistan will be able to use to resource
supplies from India. India added that it is launching its
own comprehensive shelter program to respond to the needs of
its citizens who have been made homeless by the disaster.

9. (U) According to UN calculations, new pledges made during
the conference amounted to over $579 million. This total
includes an additional $106 million from the United States
(the $56 million of in-kind assistance being provided by the
US military plus the new pledge of $50 million.) It also
includes pledges from a number of "non-traditional" or
emerging donors, including Bosnia-Herzogovina, China, Cyprus,
Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Korea,
Lithuania, Malaysia, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation,
Slovakia, Sudan, Thailand, and Turkey. Of the total $579
million in new pledges, roughly $16 million will go
specifically to fund activities and organizations in the
Flash Appeal. UN calculations of the total amount of funding
for the disaster to date (new pledges made at the conference
added to funds pledged or committed prior to the conference)
now total almost $1.3 billion. Of this amount, only $111.7
million is specifically for activities and organizations
listed in the Flash Appeal. Hence, despite a positive
response from donors, the UN appeal remains only twenty
percent covered.

10. (U) On 7 November, the UN hosted a follow up meeting of
local representatives in an attempt to spur greater donor
interest. Although it has been one month since the
earthquake, the UN still characterized the relief effort as
being in its acute emergency phase. To underscore the need
for urgent assistance, the UN has put together a one-month
action plan for November (faxed to USAID/DCHA/RMT). The
action plan outlines the activities UN agencies must
undertake during the next four weeks if significant deaths
are to be averted. The cost for the one month of operations
totals $42.2 million. UN activities in the one-month plan
are deemed to be essential and complement the activities of
other partners and organizations on the ground as well as
activities by the GOP. According to the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN agencies have
already drawn over $25 million in advance funding from their
operational reserves in order to mount existing operations;
they cannot tap these reserves further. Due to a lack of
funds, mobilization of additional staff or assets for
Pakistan by UN agencies was suspended on 31 October, pending
receipt of additional resources.

11. (U) The Geneva-based Pakistani Ambassador echoed the need
for more funding for relief activities. He urged donors to
provide assistance to UN agencies, stating that "the UN has
done a marvelous job," especially in "galvanizing" the relief
effort. Turning to the longer-term, the government of
Pakistan estimates that reconstructions costs will exceed $5
billion. This is on top of the GOP's "conservative" estimate
of $2 billion that is needed for the emergency/relief phase.

12. (U) COMMENT: The UN and the GOP have had time to digest
the results of the 26 October ministerial conference. At
first glance, they appeared to consider the conference a
modest success given a bottom line of $579 million in new
pledges of assistance. Upon further reflection, however, it
is clear that a significant amount of the pledges were
intended for the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, and
little has been made available since the conference for
immediate relief activities. More troubling for the UN is
the dismal response to the Flash Appeal. The IFRC and the
ICRC appeals -- both of which are much smaller than the UN
appeal -- are only somewhat better funded at 40 percent and
28 percent respectively. We have been told by some UN
agencies that they are currently reassessing their planned
activities in Pakistan and may scale back their funding
requests as a result. This appears to be motivated by both a
recognition of the funding shortfall for UN agencies as well
as a possible acceptance that other actors -- including NGOs,
Red Cross/Crescent National Societies, and bilateral donor
agencies/militaries -- are stepping in to implement the bulk
of the projects on the ground.

13. (U) COMMENT CONTINUED: The UN used the conference to
promote two new initiatives it is currently pursuing: the
global emergency fund and the cluster approach to disaster
coordination. During the conference, the GOP along with the
UK echoed calls for the fund's creation. The short time
frame in which to mount a successful response in Pakistan is
likely to add -- rightly or wrongly -- to the clamour for a
global fund. The details behind the cluster approach are
still being discussed in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
While the experience in Pakistan will give the humanitarian
community a glimpse of how it could work on the ground, it
would be premature to draw any conclusions at this stage.


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