Press Releases

    IHA/1184
    10 April 2006

    United Nations in Pakistan Shifts to Recovery and Reconstruction

    ISLAMABAD/NEW YORK, 8 April (OCHA) -- Six months after the earthquake, reconstruction has begun in countless villages and hamlets.  The internally displaced persons are gradually returning to their place of origin.

    The relief efforts have been relatively successful.  A second wave of deaths was avoided.  No massive population movements took place.  No epidemics broke out.  More than 500,000 tents were delivered; some 5 million iron sheets were distributed; and over 6 million blankets/quilts were provided.  A nutrition survey showed no major food deficiency compared to the pre-earthquake level.  Recorded mortality in the affected areas was not higher than during the previous winter.  Thousands of latrine slabs were installed; safe water was restored to over 700,000 people.  Over 1 million children were vaccinated against measles.  Countless helicopters -- from the Pakistani Military, United Nations, NATO, the United States and other countries -- airlifted food and non-food items.

    Jan Vandemoortele, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan, said that the real parents of success were strong national leadership and excellent international partnership.  He also stated that the much talked about "donor fatigue" did not occur in the wake of the earthquake.  The United Nations Flash Appeal was generously funded.  The cluster approach made for better coordination among the humanitarian partners and greatly facilitated the liaison between national and international actors.  The Government adoption and adaptation early on helped the army to take charge of this complex operation with competence.

    While the focus is shifting to reconstruction, experience from other countries shows that activities tend to fall to a low ebb once relief phases out.  If this were to happen, many survivors could face another difficult situation next winter.  The humanitarian community is striving for a smooth transition from relief to reconstruction.

    The major challenges foreseen in the coming months are road accessibility in remote areas, potential land slides, continued assistance for vulnerable people, and ensuring that basic services reach universal coverage.  A few camps will remain for vulnerable people and groups with special needs, including orphans and unaccompanied children, people with physical disabilities, the elderly, landless people or urban residents who cannot camp in their backyards.  Residual assistance will be targeted on the neediest and will be delivered, so as to foster early recovery; e.g. cash-for-work and food-for-work schemes, food assistance to girls enrolled in school.

    "The relief operation was complex and challenging, but not necessarily the most difficult part of the job," said Mr. Vandemoortele.  It will be a long haul before the affected people can return to their normal lives.  The United Nations is confident that the international community will continue to show strong support.  Former [United States] President Bush, as Special Envoy of the Secretary General, will assist in turning the pledges into actual contributions.

    Applauding the role of Earthquake Reconstruction Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), Mr. Vandemoortele said that the level of interaction and cooperation with ERRA is excellent.  "ERRA integrates civilian and military actors and the federal and provincial authorities to plan, coordinate and monitor the recovery and reconstruction activities," said Mr. Vandemoortele.

    Detailed information on the humanitarian relief operation is available at www.un.org.pk  and at www.reliefweb.int , plus at www.pakquakecommunication.org  and www.erra.gov.pk .

    For further information and media assistance, please contact Raabya Amjad, Public Information Officer, Pakistan, UN-OCHA, Sector E7, Street 11, House 124, Islamabad; tel: +92(0) 51 2652840; fax: + 92(0) 51 2652536; mobile: +92 (0)301 8542442 or e-mail: amjadr@un.org

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