Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (23 June 2014)

Mr. President,

We applaud your efforts for preparing a a focused agenda for this yearís Humanitarian Affairs Segment.

We appreciate the leadership of Undersecretary General Valerie Amos and the role of OCHA in mitigating the effects of complex humanitarian emergencies around the world.

Pakistan aligns itself with the statement of the Group of 77 and China.

Mr. President,

The Secretary General's report establishes how serious the humanitarian crises have become and the forecast for the coming years is more precarious. Worldwide, there are 11.1 million refugees and 33.2 million internally displaced persons and their number is increasing. Last year alone one million people became refugees and 8.1 were newly displaced. Asia was hit the hardest, accounting for half of the total disasters and 88% of all human losses.

Conflicts raging in many parts of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe are wreaking havoc on prospects for peace, stability and reconciliation.

Syria continues to bleed as all sides and their supporters are pursuing a military solution. Half of Syrian population, about 10 million, is in need of humanitarian assistance; and yet despite some success, essential foods and medicines cannot be delivered to hard-t0-access areas. Ordinary civilians - men, women and children - who are non-combatants caught in the atrocities, are fleeing their homes. Fighting must stop; guns should go silent; arms supplies should cease so that real diplomacy is given a chance to save lives and find a viable political solution. Humanitarian response alone cannot deal with this ever growing crisis.

In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the humanitarian situation should be eased by Israel by stopping demolitions and evictions in the West Bank and lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip which increases unemployment and food insecurity.

Chronic and new conflicts in Africa - in Somalia, the DRC, the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and South Sudan - are hampering the progress of these countries and compounding humanitarian catastrophes. Colossal losses in blood and money and huge costs on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance can be reduced by exploring viable political solutions and by investing in peace-building.

We urge the Myanmar Government to continue to promote inter-religious harmony to stop persecution in Rakhine and Kachin states.

Mr. President,

Natural disasters are caused by movements of the earth as well extreme weather events. And yet, we tend to ignore the human hand in the acceleration and exacerbation of these events. Natural calamities are now in part man-made disasters.

Even as we fail to craft a collective strategy to deal with climate change and global warming, we know by experience that the key factors in responding to natural disasters is to be prepared.

The Secretary Generalís Report sounds a warning for the future. The graph is likely to continue its upward trend of the last decade. Recurrent crises and protracted refugee situations have not been resolved. International humanitarian response has reached its limits. Humanitarian action in 2014 is likely to cost US Dollar 15.6, which ironically is both exorbitant and inadequate. It is, therefore, a time for review and readjustment.

In most cases, the crises are spawned by common factors of underdevelopment, poverty, socio-political instability and environmental degradation. Lack of risk-reduction strategies aggravate their effects and escalate losses. Finding effective solutions would require a concerted effort by the international community to address the root causes of conflicts through innovative strategies to prevent and resolve conflicts.

Pakistan supports OCHAís paradigm shift towards disaster risk reduction and management to focus on preparedness, resilience, transformation through innovation and technology adaptation, and interoperability. These policy instruments prepare us well for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

As a country prone to a variety of disasters, Pakistan has already embraced this change. Disaster risk reduction has been comprehensively integrated into our ten-year National Disaster Management Plan.

We have also supported the inclusion of effective cross-cutting goals on humanitarian crises and climate change in the evolving Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda. Building disaster-proof infrastructure in disaster-prone areas is of utmost significance for sustainable development.

Till last year, Pakistan witnessed monsoon floods for the fourth consecutive year - affecting 1.5 million people. The number decreased from the past three years, but the challenge is still enormous for a country whose resources have been constantly taxed by the presence of nearly 3 million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees for over thirty four years.

In particular, Mr. President, Pakistan reiterates its call for consistent and concrete steps for repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan. Rehabilitation and absorption of the returning refugees should be made an integral part of the resources being generated for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

As we meet here today, the Government is providing assistance to thousands of people temporarily dislocated due to security forces' operations against terrorists in the tribal areas of Pakistan. We are determined to root out terrorism, including through our latest operation Zarb-i-Azab, even as we try to deal with its disastrous humanitarian consequences.

Mr. President,

Pakistan believes that the success of OCHAís new approach will depend largely on prevention and resolution of conflicts, preparedness for disasters, sustainable development and enhancing efficiency and accountability of humanitarian assistance. We also believe that there is a need for a more effective interface between humanitarian and development planning, and for better coordination among national and international agencies in conformity with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian assistance.

The best humanitarian response in any part of the world is to deal with both the symptoms and causes of natural and man-made disasters.

I thank you.