Statement to the high level meeting on the flood emergency in Pakistan

United Nations, New York

Transcript, E&OE, check against delivery

19 September 2010

As demonstrated by the attendance here in today's meeting, Pakistan has many friends across the world.

Australia has now increased its assistance to the flood effort to some $75 million which across the world makes us, I believe, the fifth largest donor country.

Given the time, Secretary-General, I'd like to make two points. The first concerns the immediate relief effort and the second concerns the points raised by the President of the World Bank on long term reconstruction, recovery and development.

Firstly on the immediate relief effort, together with Foreign Minister Qureshi, I was in Pakistan just three days ago, in Multan in the Southern Punjab. I spent some time also with the Australian field hospital there, with some several hundred Australian staff.

We are concerned on the relief effort that we may still see the prospect of a serious epidemic arising from water-borne diseases. The early evidences in our field hospital suggest a rising number of cases of cerebral malaria, other serious diseases, as well as early signs of malnutrition.

I believe this is something which we need to keep a very close eye on now. It may be that we avoid this problem but I would rather we'd turned back in six months' time and realised that there was no problem rather than not take the appropriate precautions right now.

That's the first point. The second is to reinforce the comments just made by Bob Zoellick in terms of long term recovery, reconstruction and development and also to echo those of Secretary of State Clinton and her remarks before.

We wish to be partners with Pakistan long term recovery, reconstruction and development. We, together with others, will be at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting. We also will be supporting the new efforts of the Pakistan Development Forum but we need to do so on the basis of an entrenched partnership with the government and people of Pakistan, one which entrenches that relationship with the international financial institutions, the Bank and the Fund, and others, which entrenches transparency, entrenches legal protections, and a legal regime underpinning transparency as well.

We, to echo again President Zoellick's remarks, need to turn adversity into opportunity long-term and we are standing ready with our friends in Pakistan to take that challenge to the long-term and not just in public sector finance but in private sector finance as well, and the critical remarks also made about the role of microfinance.

These are my two comments, Secretary-General.

END

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