14.08.2010 - UNESCOPRESS

Director-General expresses her condolences and pledges UNESCO’s support for flood victims in Pakistan

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, expressed her sadness and concern about the unprecedented devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan, and pledged UNESCO’s support for the victims of the disaster.

“I have been deeply saddened to observe the devastation and terrible loss of lives being caused by the floods that are ravaging large parts of Pakistan at the moment,” said Ms Bokova in a letter sent last week to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani.


            “As rescue and prevention efforts continue, allow me to express profound sympathy and sincere condolences to the Government and people of Pakistan, on my behalf and that of UNESCO,” she continued. “Please rest assured that we stand ready to provide, within the Organization’s fields of competence, all the assistance the Pakistani authorities may desire.”


            According to the Pakistani government, more than 1000 people have died in the floods and some 14 million people have been affected, many of them having lost their homes and their crops.


            UNESCO, which has an office in the capital, Islamabad, is closely monitoring the situation and working with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to ensure the most effective and rapid response.


            As one of its first assistance measures, UNESCO is preparing to send a scientific mission to Pakistan to help national authorities upgrade their flood management capacity. Including experts in geosciences and hydrology, the mission will visit Islamabad and Lahore and meet members of the Federal Flood Commission (FFC), the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) as well as the UN and other organizations. Discussions will cover such topics as the use of satellite images in flood mapping and evacuation plans, state-of-the-art computer models for flood forecasting, and the adaptation of training materials for current local needs.


            Regarding education, UNESCO will help carry out an evaluation of needs in preparation for launching emergency and post-disaster educational projects.


            In addition to their tragic consequences for the population, the floods could affect the archaeological site of Moenjodaro, an immense urban centre built of baked bricks dating back to the 3rd millennium B.C. and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980; it is located just two kilometres from the Indus River. While the extent of damage is not yet known, the waters have reached unprecedented levels and threaten the ruins as well as the protective structures built during an International Safeguarding Campaign headed by UNESCO and completed in 1997.


            UNESCO will undertake a technical assessment mission to Moenjodaro as soon as the waters have receded, and also to the Historical Monuments at Makli (Thatta), inscribed on the List since 1981. The remains of the city, capital of three successive dynasties, are close to the Indus delta in the province of Sind.

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