EU commission: Pakistan to host donors' conference in late November

EU commission: Pakistan to host donors' conference in late November

Pakistan is preparing to host an international donors' conference in late November to fund its post-floods reconstruction, the European Union's top humanitarian aid official said Friday, dpa reported.   

   Floods that started with heavy monsoon rain in late July have submerged thousands of villages and towns, destroyed millions of hectares of agricultural land, and killed over 1,500 people.

   Pakistani authorities handling the crisis are "by (their) own admission, are overwhelmed by the magnitude of this disaster," said the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Kristalina Georgieva.

   The priority as the emergency was still ongoing was to save lives, but once waters subside Pakistan should be helped rebuild its agricultural sector and critical infrastructure, Georgieva said.

   The donors' conference would take place in Islamabad and focus on longer-term needs, based on assessments already being carried out by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said Georgieva, herself a former World Bank executive.

   The first figures are due to be known "in four to six weeks," she explained.

   The commissioner was speaking in Brussels on her return from a two-day trip to Pakistan, during which she met top government officials and personally witnessed the destruction wrought by the floods by visiting a village in the north of the country.

   She said the EU's reaction to the emergency "was fast and very generous."

   Aid pledges from the commission and EU national governments had reached 230 million euros (292 million dollars), making up more than half of the United Nations' 460-million-dollar emergency aid appeal, Georgieva indicated.

   "Did the world respond generously to Pakistan? ... This concern is now gone because today the UN international appeal is covered," Georgieva said, noting that EU and United States' contributions alone top the 460-million figure.

   However, she admitted that "before it gets better it will gets worse" and warned that "humanitarian needs are going to be bigger than estimated before."

   Assistance to Pakistan is due to be discussed by EU foreign ministers at an informal meeting on September 10-11. Georgieva also said the Friend of Democratic Pakistan forum would meet in Brussels in mid-October and devote a special session to the crisis.

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