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Pakistan Donor Meeting, Annan, Global Solidarity

At Pakistan Donor Meeting, Annan Seeks Global Solidarity For Quake Recovery

At an international quake-recovery donor's conference in Pakistan today, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a ringing appeal to governments, civil society and the private sector to band together to provide continuing relief and full recovery from the 8 November disaster.

"Clearly, the sheer impact of the quake is still emerging," Mr. Annan said of the event which is so far estimated to have killed some 80,000 people, injured over 100,000 and left up to 3 million homeless.

"But one thing we do know already: we must be prepared to work together in the long run," he said. "The people and Government of Pakistan will need the enduring support of the international community."

Mr. Annan, who personally witnessed the suffering of the victims in quake-hit areas yesterday, paid tribute to the valiant relief and recovery work taking place. He also thanked the donors who have already stepped forward, the international organizations that are providing support and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international, whom he called "heroic."

The greatest challenge now, he said, was to work on three levels at once -- relief, or saving lives, early recovery, or restoring livelihoods, and reconstruction, or rebuilding economies.

"Each level requires our sustained commitment," he stressed. "Each requires us to come up with innovative solutions. Each requires cash matched by coordination."

"The pitiless Himalayan winter is already upon us," he continued, emphasizing that emergency relief must continue unabated. However, at the same time, the conditions must be put in place to make sure "temporary solutions do not become a permanent makeshift reality."

For that reason, he said, a reconstruction phase must be planned that improves on what was there before. "This, in short, is where we can and must turn a challenge of inhuman dimensions into an opportunity for human development."

After touring the quake-hit areas on Friday, Mr. Annan told reporters that the devastation was "unimaginable; one had to see it to understand what has happened."

Asked about relations between India and Pakistan following the disaster, he said their governments "have reacted in a positive and responsible manner," and noted that points along the Line of Control had been opened. "Whatever we can do to facilitate relief and passage across the line to be able to assist those in need should be done and I am encouraged by what the leaders have done so far."

The Secretary-General also voiced hope that the new initiatives "will be seen as confidence building measures that can be built on and help improve the climate for discussions that are going on."

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