Holbrooke warns of long road for Pakistan

Sept. 21, 2010 at 7:38 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Reconstruction can't start in Pakistan until all flood waters have receded, the U.S. special envoy to the region cautioned.

Pakistan was rocked by devastating floods in July that put a substantial portion of the country under water. Thousands of people have died and millions more were displaced by the rising floodwaters. Parts of the country are still affected.

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said during a news conference that the devastation was unprecedented.

"This is just extraordinary and the dimensions of it have to be seen to be grasped," he said.

Holbrooke said Pakistan and the international community are working tirelessly on initial emergency relief and early recovery efforts. With parts of the country still under water, however, the special envoy warned that "reconstruction obviously can't start."

A conference highlighting the relief needs is scheduled for Oct. 15 at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in Brussels. Reconstruction will be the focus of the Pakistan Development Forum in Pakistan in mid-November, Holbrooke said.

"By then, the waters will have receded, early recovery phase will be still under way but it will be time to look down the road," he told reporters.

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