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It-Tlieta, 7 ta' Settembru 2010 - Strasburgu Edizzjoni riveduta

12. Is-sitwazzjoni umanitarja wara l-għargħar fil-Pakistan (dibattitu)
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  Elnök. − A következő pont a Bizottság nyilatkozata a humanitárius helyzetről a pakisztáni áradásokat követően.


  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I would like to thank you for putting Pakistan on the agenda. More importantly I would also like to thank Parliament for its active contribution so far to the EU response by organising very useful meetings at committee level and for having exercised your right of scrutiny very rapidly, in fact in one day, this summer. That allowed us to adopt financing decisions swiftly to ensure help could be on its way.

My aim today is to convey the impressions gained from my recent mission to Pakistan, identify the next steps in our efforts, and conclude with some lessons we can draw for the European Union.

So let me start with my impressions of Pakistan, which were dominated by the fact that this is an incredibly complex situation which is actually two disasters in one.

Up in the North there are 3 million internally displaced people and refugees, who have had to flee from armed conflicts only to see their camps and their newly-built houses washed away and their newly-built lives destroyed. Downstream, in the fertile plains of South Pakistan, rural communities have lost not only their homes, but also their livelihoods and a large part of the economy of Pakistan on which the country relies.

Since I briefed the Development Committee, the numbers indicating the impact of this disaster have actually gone up. All in all, more than 20 million Pakistanis have been affected by the floods across the whole country. More than 12 million people are in need of immediate assistance.

(The President asked some Members to be quiet).

I know that the issue that was discussed before is a very important one for European values. As indeed is the one I am addressing now, so thank you.

In terms of numbers, just a week ago we were talking about 8 million people being in need of immediate assistance. Now the numbers have been revised upwards to 12 million. More than 1.8 million houses have been destroyed or damaged; this number has been revised up from 1.2 million. More than 3.4 million hectares of agricultural land are under water. There are reports of diarrhoea and cholera outbreaks. In these conditions our aid is focusing on the obvious immediate priorities: food, clean water, sanitation, health assistance and shelter. In the face of a disaster of such massive proportions, massive international relief assistance is necessary. So let me move straight to the next point. What has the EU done, and what do we intend to do next?

Our humanitarian response has been significant. The EU, that is the Member States and the Commission, has contributed so far a total of EUR 231 million for immediate relief assistance, with EUR 70 million coming from the Commission and the remaining EUR 161 million from the Member States. Twelve Member States have also mobilised in-kind assistance through the Union’s civil protection mechanism. This makes us the largest donor. Our contribution should be measured against the UN call for USD 460 million for immediately relief, but I must also stress that this call is going to be revised upwards and we will probably get a new appeal from the UN within a week.

Our assistance was also swift. On 30 July, it became clear that the floods were going to be devastating and our first financial decision for EUR 30 million was taken on the next day, 31 July.

We activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism, on receiving a request from the Pakistani authorities, immediately on 6 August and we deployed a team of 18 experts to coordinate our assistance with the UN and the Pakistani authorities so it could be most effective.

This is the fist time that in-kind aid from Member States has been delivered using civil strategic airlift capacity in coordination with the EU military staff. It allowed us to provide much-needed water purification units, mobile hospitals, medicine, shelter and tents. But I am not going to hide the fact that, despite this tremendous effort, there are big challenges ahead of us.

So let me highlight four main challenges. First, the humanitarian crisis is far from over. We may not yet have even reached the peak of this crisis. We know from relief workers that, as of today, they expect in the month of September to have reached 6 million people out of the 12 million who are in need of assistance. So in a way the crisis is expanding faster than help can be mobilised to catch up with it. The situation may get worse before it gets better, especially in terms of epidemics.

Secondly, it is critically important, as we strive to reach as many people as possible, to target those that are most vulnerable. These include poor communities, women, especially women-led households, children, the elderly and the handicapped, because they are likely to be left out if they are not targeted consciously. So this is exactly what the Commission aims to do, working with our 26 partners.

Thirdly, bringing aid speedily is not only a matter of people’s survival. It is also a matter of preserving the stability of a country which faces significant security challenges. Popular discontent can easily grow out of desperation and therefore we have to be absolutely determined to try to help people as quickly as possible, as much as possible.

Fourthly, important as it is to save lives today, we also need to think of recovery starting now. In terms of early recovery there are two very important tasks. To ensure agricultural recovery when the water recedes, we have to be ready with tools and seeds and with help to farmers so they can catch up this planting season. At the same time there is a need to rebuild the critical infrastructure that connects farmers to markets and also allows us to reach out to remote communities.

In the long term, obviously, the country is facing a major challenge of recovery. An assessment led by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, with the Commission and the UNDP, is currently ongoing to determine the long-term recovery needs. We have been working throughout very closely with High Representative and Vice-President Ashton, Commissioner Piebalgs and Commissioner De Gucht so that the European Union can come up with a comprehensive and holistic proposal as to how we can support the country's development.

Pakistan will be on the agenda in the next Gymnich meeting and at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in Brussels on 14 and15 October.

So let me draw some lessons for the EU. I see three. First, the Pakistani floods are only one of many reminders that the impact of climate change is profound. Looking at the resulting cost, it is very important to focus on disaster preparedness and also on rebuilding a highly vulnerable country devastated by a disaster in a way that is resilient to the risk of climate change.

Taking a cautious approach, I cannot claim that these floods are caused by climate change. I certainly know, however, that scientific opinion is very clear that the increased frequency and intensity of disasters is due to climate change. Secondly, in a year which saw an earthquake in Haiti, a drought in the Sahel, conflict in Sudan and now floods of major proportions in Pakistan, once again our budgetary situation is precarious, as our own budget and the emergency aid reserve are almost depleted. Yet it is still only the beginning of September.

Because of the upward trend in the number and intensity of disasters, there is a widening gap in our humanitarian budget which must be taken into account as we prepare for the next Financial Perspective so we can match our resources to our citizens’ commitment to helping people in need.

My third point is that the EU has been on the front line since the outset of the crisis, and yet in the early days our presence was not widely reported in the media. We have to focus very strongly, therefore, on improving not only the efficiency but also the visibility of EU disaster response instruments, as was indicated this morning in the session that you had with President Barroso. We will come up with a proposal in the next month.

Let me conclude by stating with pride, on behalf of our citizens, that Pakistan has shown that EU solidarity is not just words; it is deeds and action. We can take pride in that, because our work is not only saving lives but also upholding principles and values that are at the heart of the European project.




  Filip Kaczmarek, w imieniu grupy PPE. – Pani Przewodnicząca! Pani Komisarz! Powodzie w Pakistanie to bardzo poważna katastrofa humanitarna, której skutki dotknęły dziesiątki milionów ludzi. Nie powinniśmy prześcigać się w podawaniu liczby ofiar i porównywaniu cierpienia, dlatego nie będę porównywał tej katastrofy do innych. To była wielka tragedia. Chciałbym podziękować Komisarz Georgievej za szybkie i odpowiednie działania Komisji Europejskiej. Szkoda, że nie udało nam się zorganizować nadzwyczajnego posiedzenia Komisji Rozwoju naszego parlamentu podczas wakacji, ale z drugiej strony możemy być dumni, że Unia Europejska zareagowała szybko i solidarnie. Musimy pamiętać o tym, że miliony ludzi nadal potrzebują pomocy, wsparcia i współpracy. Priorytety pani komisarz poza pomocą doraźną, rolnictwem i transportem, są rzeczywiście kluczowe. Jeżeli nie uda się uratować pakistańskiego rolnictwa, to w przyszłym roku nastąpi tam kolejna katastrofa humanitarna - żywnościowa. Paradoksalnie istnieje szansa na to, że powodzie będą miały pewne pozytywne skutki np. zahamują działania ekstremistów, ułatwią rozwiązanie problemu uchodźców.

Cieszę się, że pani komisarz zamierza przedstawić inicjatywy zmierzające do zwiększenia skuteczności naszych instrumentów reagowania na katastrofy humanitarne. Cieszę się też, że prezydencja belgijska gotowa jest przyjąć te inicjatywy jako priorytety własnej prezydencji. Parlament Europejski takie inicjatywy na pewno poprze.


  Véronique De Keyser, au nom du groupe S&D. – Madame la Présidente, Madame la Commissaire, permettez-moi de vous féliciter pour votre engagement. Vous avez été certainement à la hauteur de votre mission.

Ceci dit, il reste tellement à faire et il y a une sorte de divorce entre le Pakistan et l'opinion publique. L'image est brouillée, les gens ne veulent pas donner de fonds et c'est un véritable problème. L'auditoire est à peu près désert aujourd'hui et on me répond parfois "oh, au Pakistan, vous savez, il n'y a plus rien, les eaux baissent". Eh bien, les eaux baissent et on est pourtant devant une des catastrophes les plus importantes, aussi importante que le tsunami.

Il y a deux points auxquels je suis sensible. D'abord, l'amélioration de nos mécanismes d'intervention rapide. Vous avez fait le maximum, la coordination, etc., et avec les fonds que vous aviez. Ce n'est pas du tout une critique. Mais je pense que l'Europe a tout intérêt à renforcer ses mécanismes d'intervention rapide un peu à la manière du B-Fast belge et j'engage la Présidence belge à travailler sur ce sujet en concertation avec la Commission.

Le deuxième point, c'est le problème des femmes. Je vous l'ai déjà dit, Madame la Commissaire, ce sont souvent les oubliées des conflits et des catastrophes. Nous savons ce qu'est le sort de la femme pakistanaise. Nous savons qu'aujourd'hui, à l'instant où je vous parle, il y a 300 000 femmes qui vont devoir accoucher dans les prochaines semaines. Nous savons que 30 000 d'entre elles vont nécessiter des interventions chirurgicales et je vous implore, je vous dis: "Faites une action ciblée sur ce problème".

Il y a des ONG locales qui ont accès à peu près partout sur le terrain et par exemple qui sont associées à la Fédération internationale de planning familial. Cherchez des accords locaux et donnez-nous des nouvelles de cela. Nous vous demanderons, non pas des comptes, Madame la Commissaire, mais nous vous demanderons des nouvelles de ces femmes-là. J'espère que vous saurez nous en donner.


  Charles Goerens, au nom du groupe ALDE. – Madame la Présidente, à l'heure actuelle, le plus grand lac du monde se situe au Pakistan, pour reprendre les termes de la responsable d'Oxfam pour ce pays.

En fait, au regard des souffrances et de la misère générées par les inondations d'une rare ampleur, il me paraît déjà approprié de parler d'un océan de problèmes, de peines, de souffrances et de désespoir.

Notre responsabilité à tous est engagée. Pourquoi?

D'abord parce que les vingt millions de victimes directes de cette catastrophe ne peuvent pas s'en sortir toutes seules. Ensuite, notre responsabilité c'est celle de l'Union européenne, mais c'est aussi celle des États membres, ce qui revient au même. Le moment est venu, avec l'entrée en vigueur du traité de Lisbonne, de mettre fin à cette distinction artificielle, qui n'a vraiment plus de raison d'être.

L'Europe assume bien entendu ses responsabilités et vous en offrez l'exemple, Madame la Commissaire. L'Europe fait même cela de façon exemplaire. N'est-ce pas l'Union européenne qui, en règle générale, s'avère être le premier bailleur de fonds pour ce qui est de l'action humanitaire? D'autres seraient bien inspirés d'accroître leur contribution pour aider le Pakistan à sortir de la misère qui va résulter des présentes inondations. Je pense notamment aux États milliardaires et aux puissances pétrolières de cette région du monde.

Est-ce à dire que nous, Européens, sommes parfaits? Non. Je crois que nous pourrions même faire mieux sans pour autant devoir dépenser davantage. Il y a d'abord le rapport Barnier, qui vise la mutualisation des moyens et outils que peuvent engager les vingt-sept lors d'une catastrophe. Qu'attend-on pour mettre enfin en œuvre les conclusions de ce rapport?

Vient ensuite le manque de visibilité de l'Union européenne. Il ne s'agit certes pas de l'aspect le plus important mais il faut y remédier, non pas dans un élan de vantardise ou de générosité affichée. Ce qui importe, en l'occurrence, c'est que l'Union entreprenne tout pour se profiler dans ce qu'elle sait faire de mieux, c'est-à-dire s'affirmer de façon perceptible comme le premier acteur humanitaire du globe et exceller dans ce qui se précise comme étant sa vraie vocation, c'est-à-dire devenir une véritable puissance de paix.


  Jean Lambert, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, as has been said, what is happening in Pakistan at the moment is a real tragedy and will require long-term commitment on behalf of the people of Pakistan and its democratically-elected government for some time to come.

I very much welcome the Commissioner’s response, and indeed her longer-term perspective, not least the link to climate resilience. I share the concerns she has voiced about long-term funding for such disasters. I think we would all urge the international community to intensify its response. We would certainly like to welcome India’s increased contribution to the UN fund, because that sends an important political signal.

In our view the international community could go further. It could release more of Pakistan’s own money by taking action to relieve Pakistan’s international debt, much of which was incurred under military regimes. In 2008 Pakistan spent USD 3 billion on debt repayment: this dwarfs the international aid effort. France and Germany are important bilateral donors. I think we should look with some concern at the repayment terms that may be on offer for the loans that are currently being put forward.

I would also like to mention that I think it is important to have a similar response from within Pakistan, not least from rich landowners who could, for example, offer some sort of rent relief for poor tenant farmers who are not going to be able to pay their rent for some time to come.


  Sajjad Karim, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Madam President, can I first of all welcome the remarks that the Commissioner made in committee and also here today. Our response – led by the Commissioner – has indeed been commendable, both at an EU level and from the Member States acting on a bilateral basis. The UK certainly did all that it could.

It is very saddening to note that, whilst the people of Pakistan were facing this catastrophe, their President was enjoying the best and finest that Europe had to offer. Whilst he was doing that we started to mobilise and stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Pakistan. I am very proud that we did that.

As the civil infrastructure crumbled it was the military that had to step in. The fact that we have been working to provide the emergency relief required is very commendable. However, the emergency is still underway as we meet here today. Whilst it is ongoing we are doing what we can, but we must start to plan our response for the medium to long term.

The unprecedented scale of the floods warrants an unprecedented international response. We must start to rebuild Pakistan, but we must do this in such a way that the people of Pakistan can be seen to be doing it, or truly unimaginable consequences might unfold. We have a development agenda, but we must also tie into this a trade-related agenda to allow the people of Pakistan to rebuild their country themselves as well.

Colleagues, I am asking really for us to be ambitious and to come forward with an EU plan – rather like the Marshal Plan which helped to rebuild parts of Europe. That is what is required. That is the scale of the challenge. Please rise to it.


  Michèle Striffler (PPE). - Madame la Présidente, Madame la Commissaire, chers collègues, la situation humanitaire au Pakistan est dramatique, pire que le tsunami qui a touché l'Asie.

Je me félicite de la décision de la Commission européenne de porter à 70 millions d'euros le total des fonds d'aide humanitaire pour aider les populations victimes des inondations et je salue la réactivité, encore une fois immédiate, de Mme Georgieva.

Un des problèmes majeurs est l'accès aux victimes, car les infrastructures sont détruites, les victimes sont entourées par l'eau et la situation sécuritaire est très instable. Il est primordial que les principes humanitaires d'impartialité, de neutralité, d'indépendance et d'humanité soient respectés lors de l'acheminement de l'aide, qui doit se baser uniquement sur les besoins des populations.

Même si les instruments de réponse aux catastrophes de l'Union européenne ont bien fonctionné, la crise au Pakistan a de nouveau démontré la nécessité de renforcer leur efficacité en termes de rapidité, de coordination et de visibilité. Cette catastrophe a mis en exergue, une fois de plus, le besoin de créer une capacité européenne de réaction rapide. J'appelle donc une nouvelle fois de mes vœux la création d'une force européenne de protection civile.

Madame la Commissaire, vous allez présenter en novembre une communication sur le renforcement de la capacité de réponse aux catastrophes de l'Union européenne qui sera suivie par des propositions d'actes législatifs. Vous avez donc ici l'opportunité de proposer des solutions ambitieuses et je suis certaine que vous le ferez.


  Thijs Berman (S&D). - Mevrouw de Voorzitter, de EU neemt ruimschoots haar deel van de hulpgelden op zich, maar die toezeggingen, 230 miljoen euro van EU en lidstaten, moeten nu wel worden waargemaakt. Pakistan mag niet het slachtoffer worden van een onuitgesproken wantrouwen. Humanitaire hulp is een plicht, los van politiek, zonder discriminatie. De EU is een van de belangrijkste donoren. Het is daarom van essentieel belang dat juist wij onze inspanningen goed coördineren. Vraag aan commissaris Georgieva: waar kan onze coördinatie beter? Wat is daarvoor nodig? Wat heeft u daarvoor nodig?

De bevolking moet toegang krijgen en houden tot schoon drinkwater, medische zorg en voedsel. Zolang de dreiging van nieuwe overstromingen blijft, is de opbouw van de getroffen gebieden lastig. Zodra dat mogelijk is, moet de internationale gemeenschap de Pakistaanse overheid en de bevolking bijstaan om ook de gevolgen van deze ramp op de lange termijn te verzachten en als dat om meer budget vraagt, moeten wij de ruimte daarvoor vinden.


  Louis Michel (ALDE). - Madame la Présidente, Madame la Commissaire, je voudrais évidemment saluer, Madame la Commissaire, le travail considérable que vous avez effectué.

Grâce à votre action, les pays de l'Union européenne ont mobilisé 230 millions d'euros d'aide d'urgence, dont 70 millions de fonds européens. Cela a été dit, c'est remarquable, c'est magnifique. Votre présence là-bas est aussi un témoignage de ce que vous avez vraiment pris le problème à bras-le-corps.

Je voudrais d'abord joindre ma voix à tout ce qui a été dit ici: le problème des femmes, le problème de la santé, également le problème politique – parce que le risque de jeter ce pays dans les bras des extrémistes existe aussi. Je voudrais rappeler – cela a été dit également, malheureusement on ne peut que se répéter – que nous devons absolument mettre en place rapidement une capacité de mobilisation européenne de protection civile. J'ai déjà eu l'occasion de le dire plusieurs fois, notamment lors du tremblement de terre en Haïti.

Le rapport Barnier est une source d'inspiration parfaite pour permettre la mise en place de ce mécanisme. J'aimerais vous interroger plus particulièrement sur vos intentions à ce propos-là.


  Peter van Dalen (ECR). - Voorzitter, in Nederland kennen wij de strijd tegen het water en daarom voel ik mij zeer verbonden met het Pakistaanse volk, dat zo zwaar getroffen is door de watersnoodramp. Ik roep de Europese Unie, de lidstaten en de internationale gemeenschap op de Pakistanen bij te staan en hen niet over te laten aan de grillen van de Taliban.

Als christen voel ik mij ook verbonden met de Pakistaanse christenen. Ik heb gehoord van organisaties als Open Doors International en Compass Direct News dat in verschillende gebieden christenen worden gediscrimineerd bij de distributie van voedsel en medische hulp. Dat bericht heeft mij geschokt, en ik wil de commissaris vragen daar ook aandacht aan te besteden. Een ernstiger bericht was nog dat kennelijk inmiddels drie buitenlandse hulpverleners van een christelijke organisatie zijn vermoord door Pakistaanse Taliban. Ik wil de commissaris vragen ook hier nadrukkelijk aandacht aan te besteden. En ook de Pakistaanse overheid te steunen, want de Pakistaanse overheid moet binnen- en buitenlandse hulpverleners beschermen, en discriminatie in de hulpverlening mag nooit voorkomen.

Graag ook een reactie hierop van de commissaris.


  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE). - Madam President, firstly I would like to convey my sympathy to the people of Pakistan over the tragic loss of lives. I would also like to thank Commissioner Georgieva for her devoted work in making Pakistan an urgent priority on her agenda.

It took the world and the EU some time to comprehend the full scale of the disaster. Now as we understand better the needs of the affected people, our response should be urgent and match those needs. We need to provide more financial and material assistance while ensuring that help will reach everyone, including minorities, according to their needs.

We must also not forget that Pakistan is a frontline country in the international war on extremism and terrorism. If we fail to assist them, then poverty and despair may strengthen militancy. A one-off humanitarian assistance effort will not do. It should be combined with help to rebuild the country’s infrastructure – roads, bridges, schools, etc.

We also need to take urgent measures to help Pakistan in reviving its economy and trade. Enhanced market access for Pakistani exports and new debt arrangements could turn the tide. EU Member States should seriously reconsider debt trade-off as a way to offer help in this tragedy.


  Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D). - Señora Presidenta, señora Comisaria, la percepción general en la opinión pública mundial y también entre nosotros es que la reacción de la comunidad internacional ante el desastre humanitario en Pakistán ha sido una reacción lenta y débil. Hemos llegado más tarde y lo hemos hecho con menor intensidad que en otras catástrofes humanitarias de dimensión comparable.

También se ha percibido una cierta resistencia a cubrir las necesidades que las Naciones Unidas han establecido. Algunos colegas se han referido a la resistencia que puede haber en nuestras sociedades por el tipo de régimen político o por los problemas que pueda haber en Pakistán. Pero yo creo que tenemos que hacer un esfuerzo como parlamentarios y en nuestras sociedades para explicar que ayudamos a personas, ayudamos a seres que están en dificultades, y no a uno u otro régimen político. Que la acción humanitaria se basa en la neutralidad, en la imparcialidad, en la independencia, y que esos son los valores que guían nuestra actividad.


  Elena Băsescu (PPE). - Bilanţul inundaţiilor din Pakistan este unul fără precedent.

20 de milioane de persoane au fost afectate, 2000 şi-au pierdut viaţa, peste 1 milion de locuinţe au fost distruse, iar segmente de infrastructură şi o mare parte din suprafaţa agricolă sunt inutilizabile.

Uniunea Europeană nu putea rămâne indiferentă în faţa acestei tragedii, mai ales că unele state membre, printre care şi România, au cunoscut violenţa inundaţiilor din această vară.

Salut angajamentul ferm al Comisiei Europene şi al statelor membre, care au deblocat fonduri de ajutor ce însumează 230 de milioane de euro. UE a devenit astfel cel mai important donator extern pentru Pakistan.

Totuşi, situaţia umanitară rămâne una deosebit de gravă, cu implicaţii pe termen lung. Consider că reabilitarea sustenabilă nu poate fi realizată decât prin creşterea economiei proprii. UE poate contribui, în acest sens, prin deschiderea pieţelor sale către Pakistan.


  Corina Creţu (S&D). - Într-adevăr, răspunsul Uniunii Europene faţă de tragedia pakistaneză a fost prompt, deşi, cum aţi spus, nu întotdeauna este la fel de vizibil, după cum vizita dumneavoastră în zonele afectate de inundaţii a demonstrat solidarizarea Uniunii Europene în faţa acestei catastrofe umanitare.

Acum sinistraţii - şi e vorba de aproximativ 18 milioane de oameni - sunt expuşi unor riscuri majore de îmbolnăvire. Din păcate, ONU nu a primit decât o treime din sumele solicitate, aceasta datorându-se şi rezervelor manifestate de ţările membre faţă de corupţia generalizată în Pakistan.

Cred că se impune un mecanism de control privind modul în care ajutorul umanitar este direcţionat direct spre victimele inundaţiilor şi nu deturnat de către feudalii locali, în paralel cu intensificarea misiunilor umanitare.

De asemenea, cred că grija faţă de măsurile de securitate ale lucrătorilor umanitari trebuie să constituie o prioritate pentru noi, având în vedere ameninţările islamiste.


  Jürgen Creutzmann (ALDE). - Frau Präsidentin, Frau Kommissarin! In Pakistan sind wir Zeuge einer furchtbaren Flutkatastrophe geworden, und den leidenden mittellosen Menschen dieses Landes muss geholfen werden. Mich bedrückt hierbei besonders, dass es Regionen in Pakistan gibt, an welche die Zentralregierung keine ordentliche Hilfe herankommen lässt.

So ist zum Beispiel die Region Gilgit-Baltistan, nördlich von Jammu und Kashmir innerhalb des pakistanischen Grenzgebiets, ebenfalls hart von starken Regenfällen und ihren Auswirkungen betroffen. Nach meinen Informationen sind allein in Gilgit-Baltistan 500 Menschen gestorben und 50 000 Menschen obdachlos geworden. Vier Brücken sind weggespült worden, und viele Landstriche wurden komplett von der Außenwelt isoliert. Bisher sind aber lediglich Hilfen in Höhe von umgerechnet 10 000 Euro in Gilgit-Baltistan angekommen.

Daher sollte die Europäische Union ihre Hilfsgelder nicht allein an die pakistanische Zentralregierung überweisen, sondern direkt Nichtregierungsorganisationen fördern, welche sich auch um die Belange der abgelegenen Regionen Pakistans kümmern.


  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D). - Pani Przewodnicząca! W sytuacji gigantycznej klęski humanitarnej w Pakistanie Unia Europejska działała skuteczniej niż się to zdarzało w przeszłości. Myślę, że wszyscy tutaj z dużą satysfakcją obserwujemy pewien postęp w stosunku np. do pomocy udzielonej Haiti. Chciałbym zasygnalizować dwie bardzo ważne sprawy. Sprawa pierwsza dotyczy zwiększania rzeczywistych możliwości Unii; kładę tutaj nacisk na słowa „rzeczywiste możliwości Unii” w udzieleniu pomocy humanitarnej. Dla przykładu: trzeba by rozwiązać kwestie związane z transportem lotniczym. Jeżeli się takim transportem nie dysponuje, to trudno udzielać skutecznie pomocy. Sprawa druga wiąże się z lepszą koordynacją działań na poziomie Unii. Unia czyni bardzo duży wysiłek, ale rzecz w tym, żeby ten wysiłek w samej Unii i państwach członkowskich był w większym stopniu skoordynowany.


  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. − Madam President, I would like to thank Members for their very useful comments. I shall try to group my response around three sets of issues. Firstly, short-term and long-term priorities, and how we can integrate the advice you have given us here. Secondly, the political environment and how we can protect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian work as well as the safety of humanitarian workers. Thirdly, the EU’s disaster response capacity and what we are currently doing to make sure that it is stronger in the future.

On the first set of issues, I am very much aligned with the comments that have been in made this House about ensuring that we focus on those at risk of being excluded. This especially concerns the more conservative areas of Pakistan, women, and of course children in women-led households, who are at very high risk, and minorities, including religious minorities, to which reference has been made here.

In any country, including in this case Pakistan, those communities that are simply hard to reach are at particularly high risk. They are cut off either by nature or because of conflicts. I can assure you that we screen proposals from our partners very carefully to make sure that our funding, to a very large degree, targets those at risk of being excluded.

I will follow up with my staff in more detail the specific question that I was asked on the treatment of religious minorities. I do know that we consider minorities very carefully and I am sure we have more specific information on that, as well as on the situation in Kashmir. I can say that we have been working with NGO partners there to be able to reach out to people.

The point was strongly made here that agriculture is the foundation of a large part of Pakistani society and the Pakistani economy. As the water recedes it may leave more fertile land, but that will only be an opportunity if we are there fast to help farmers recover their capacity to plant. As always in the case of a disaster, if the response is put together well, especially as regards longer-term rehabilitation, it can also bring improvements in terms of security.

That brings me to the point that was made about the need to look at raising funds from others. In other words we should use our moral authority to urge others in the neighbourhood, the Gulf nations, to contribute to Pakistan. They have been doing that and it is true that the EU, having acted quickly and massively, does now have a capacity to call on others. We will continue to do so as we prepare for the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting here on 14 and 15 October. The High Representative Vice-President Catherine Ashton, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Minister Qureshi, are going to co-chair this meeting, and we have already agreed to have a special expanded session to try to raise attention, support the efforts of others and urge others to contribute.

As far as our Member States and our own resources are concerned, I can say the following. As regards the Commission’s resources, EUR 70 million has already been committed and a large part of it has already been disbursed. The week I was in Pakistan we ran out of money for the urgent relief projects that we are supporting with very credible organisations and very competent people who operate on the ground. Our staff there have already made it clear that we will need to provide additional resources.

As regards the Member States, I want to pay tribute to the UK, Germany and Sweden. They are the biggest donors. In many cases they have already delivered their assistance. The Commission and the Member States have a shared competence in this area. Of course, we are cooperating and we would like to see all our commitments fully deployed.

As far as the priorities for our longer-term response are concerned, it is very clear that the economic forecast for Pakistan will have to be revised downwards. In other words the growth forecast for next year will drop from 4.5% before the floods to maybe 1%, or even to below zero. There has been massive destruction that has yet to be assessed, but it will be in the order of billions. Therefore it will be necessary to mobilise support for Pakistan in a holistic way. That means that all possible options as to how the support can be provided will be looked into.

Obviously the Commission has no lending capacity, so debt relief is not something that I can take a stand on from the point of view of what the Commission can do, but one of the options would be to look at Pakistan’s capabilities. We will make sure that your voice is heard as these options are discussed.

Similarly, there will be questions about trade and what can be done. I can tell you that Commissioner De Gucht is already very seriously looking into what we can offer through this holistic way of responding to the country’s problems.

Let me add one more point. We also have to work with Pakistan to support the Government in the reforms they are undertaking in order to get the economy on to a more solid footing – including reforming how they organise their public finances and their budgets – so that the floods do not end up distracting the Government from doing the right thing for its own people in the long term. That is also something we are discussing.

Of course helping Pakistan is also a matter of political stability in a country that is so very important for its own region and for the rest of the world. In this sense we very much hope that our collective action will not only save lives but also prevent chaos from erupting in this very sensitive place. In doing so, for those of us who care about the humanitarian side, it is also very important to always stress to the authorities – as I did when I was there – that the security of humanitarian workers is crucial.

The other side of that is for us to ensure neutrality. Who we help cannot be based on factors such as religion, gender, or rural or urban location. This matter of the neutrality and safety of humanitarian workers is profoundly important. 19 August was the day of humanitarian workers. On that day, sadly, we noted that last year we lost more humanitarian workers than peacekeepers. 102 humanitarian workers died. In the context of Pakistan, every day I wake up with great anxiety as to whether a life will be lost in responding to this disaster. I just want to confirm that we take this very seriously.

Let me finish with the point about strengthening the EU’s disaster response. I am very grateful to those of you who spoke positively of what we have been doing with a view to being better organised and better coordinated. I am also grateful to those who say we need to do more, and I agree with that.

Let me give you just one example of what coordination means in the case of Pakistan. As I said, we deployed our civil protection coordination team in Pakistan. We got 12 Member States to provide in-kind assistance. We organised ten flights as an EU air bridge to Pakistan – two by the Czech Republic, one financed by Finland and seven co-financed by the Commission. We actually brought assistance on behalf of multiple countries in a coordinated fashion and then, in a coordinated fashion, we distributed it on the ground.

So progress is being made but, to those who say that more needs to be done, my response is ‘all power to your voice’. Hopefully you will see from the Commission a very determined and ambitious way of approaching what it means to have a strong EU disaster response capacity.

Since this is a discussion we will be having in the future, I would sum it up very briefly in four points.

With regard to scenario planning, we need to be much better prepared in anticipating the types of disasters that are to come.

Secondly, we need pre-determined and committed assets from Member States on which we can rely when a disaster strikes. Whenever we have a disaster and I make a call for assistance, I do not know at the moment of the call whether or not I will get what is necessary. Luckily for me, so far every time we have called on them the Member States have come through, but it would be much more prudent if we could predict upfront what the commitment of the Member States is and what assets we have in hand.

My third point concerns strengthening coordination. I am not going to say more about that. Obviously, we need to get our 27 plus one to act as one.

Fourthly, we need a holistic approach to crisis response that incorporates prevention, preparedness, response and rehabilitation feedback.

These four points are the foundation of the proposal I would present to you.

Madam President and Honourable Members, thank you again for your advice to me and my team.


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