Updated: 27-Oct-2005 NATO Speeches

At the Ministerial
Meeting on
Assistance to
affected by the
Earthquake in
South Asia,

Palais des

26 October 2005


by Deputy Secretary General, Alessandro Minuto Rizzo

Mr. Secretary General,

Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Secretary General, let me first of all thank the United Nations for organising this conference to gather additional momentum for the relief effort to assist Pakistan.

I would also like to thank the UN for inviting NATO to participate in this conference and inform the participants about what assistance the Alliance has been providing and is planning to provide.

The earthquake in Pakistan has deeply saddened and shocked all of us. While NATO is not in the forefront of humanitarian assistance, following the request from the Pakistani Government for support, and against the background of the unprecedented nature of this disaster, we embarked upon a relief operation which is, in many ways, unprecedented for us as well. As you know, NATO also leads the International Security Assistance Force in neighbouring Afghanistan and, as such, is engaged in the region.

On 10 October, NATO received a request from the Government of Pakistan for assistance in the relief efforts and responded positively. In the first instance, on 11 October, the NATO Council approved an air operation to bring relief supplies from NATO and Partner countries to Pakistan. Upon a request from UNHCR, we extended this operation to transport substantial UNHCR assistance as well.

This operation has been going on for about two weeks now, in full cooperation with the Government of Pakistan and in coordination with other international actors, including the UN OCHA, UNHCR, and the European Union.

Let me briefly update you on the status of the airlift operation. As of yesterday, some 25 NATO flights have transported to Pakistan more than 300 tons of emergency aid provided by UNHCR, NATO countries and Partner nations as well as other donor countries. 14 additional flights are foreseen between today and Friday and these are expected to carry some additional 440 tons.

On 21 October, as part of the overall international effort to provide further urgent support to the relief actions carried out by the Pakistani authorities, the North Atlantic Council agreed to enhance NATO’s contribution by offering to deploy a land element, again, in full cooperation with the Pakistani authorities.

In this framework, NATO has offered to deploy a battalion of engineers with equipment, to help clear roads and set up facilities and a mobile, multinational medical unit, to supplement the UN hospitals in Pakistan.

Additionally, three water purification plants will be sent to help in meeting the pressing need for safe drinking water. Furthermore, to assist the UN with the planning and logistics aspects of this massive humanitarian effort, NATO will also send specialised personnel.

Further use of the strategic airlift and the provision of some additional rotary lift is also envisaged, supplementing the helicopters which are already in place from NATO nations. In addition, a sea lift operation will be considered, if necessary, to take oversized goods and equipment.

We are focused on providing relief in this critical period. Preparations for this additional NATO assistance are ongoing and we have already dispatched to Islamabad a small Deployable Joint Task Force Headquarters to coordinate with the Pakistani authorities and help the UN with planning, command and control and logistics. We expect that first troop deployments can take place in the next few days. At the moment we expect that deployments will be in the order of around 1,300 personnel.

Needless to say, the challenge we are facing, like all nations and organisations here, consists of thousands of kilometres of distance to be covered and operations in one of the least accessible regions. However, NATO and NATO nations are determined to continue to do what they can in support of the Government of Pakistan. We will continue to work in close cooperation with Pakistan, as well as the United Nations and other International Organisations and donors to ensure that NATO’s contributions are well coordinated and complementary to the efforts of others.

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