13 October 2005
United Nations Agencies Rushing Relief to Pakistan
NEW YORK, 12 October (OCHA) -- United Nations agencies are rushing emergency relief supplies to the Himalayan region of Pakistan, where Saturday's 7.6 magnitude earthquake has left at least one million people in acute need of assistance.
A World Food Programme (WFP) convoy of trucks carrying 39 tonnes of high energy biscuits arrived today in Abbottabad. WFP is organizing the distribution of the highly nutritious biscuits --which need no cooking or preparation -- in conjunction with the non-governmental organization International Rescue Committee. A second convoy carrying a further 40 tonnes of the biscuits will be dispatched to Muzaffarabad, the city hardest hit by the quake.
Additionally, two of the 10 WFP helicopters that have been dedicated to the relief effort will arrive in Pakistan today, which will enable rescue and aid workers to reach the most remote areas cut off by landslides. WFP will establish five United Nations base camps in the hardest-hit locations in order to coordinate the relief operation.
Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has begun distribution of tonnes of urgently-needed relief supplies, sending family tents, hospital tents, plastic sheeting, mattresses, kitchen sets and other items from its warehouse in Peshawar. The refugee agency announced on Monday that this initial distribution would comprise supplies for some 100,000 people from existing stocks in Pakistan and elsewhere in the region.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed 11 surgical teams and one public health team to areas affected by the earthquake and a disaster response team from WHO Sudan has also departed for Pakistan. A joint Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs/WHO shipment of 60 cold climate tents, 3,600 blankets, 1,600 jerrycans, 5 water storage containers, 2 generators, 216 family kitchen sets, and 1 water purification unit, donated by Italy have been dispatched, as have 15 emergency health kits from WHO stocks. Another OCHA shipment containing 6,760 quilted blankets, 150 tents, 6 plastic rolls, and 5,240 emergency drinking water kits with filters donated by Norway has also been dispatched.
The World Bank is also scrambling teams of disaster reconstruction experts and emergency funding, doubling its initial commitment to $40 million.
According to the Government of Pakistan, the death toll from Saturday's earthquake now stands at approximately 33,000 people. Overall, some four million individuals have been affected and could be left homeless. At least 120,000 are in urgent need of shelter.
The primary challenge to the relief work continues to be access. Most of the affected areas remain accessible only by helicopter, although work to clear blocked roads is ongoing and some roads have reopened.
For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, tel: +1 917 367 5126, mobile: +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, tel: +1 917 367 9262; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, tel: +41 22 917 2653, mobile: +41 79 473 4570.
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