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Operational update on the humanitarian activities of Red Cross and Red Crescent in response to the Asia quake

Tuesday November 15, 2005


The World Health Organisation and authorities estimate that 3.3 million people have been affected by the October 8 earthquake (1 million severely), and 500,000 have been displaced. Among the one million severely affected, women and children appear to have borne the brunt of this disaster. The official death toll in Pakistan is now more than 73,000, including 32,000 children and a further 69,000 people have been injured.

Shelter and medical assistance remain the most urgent priorities. Access to clean water is also a major concern. As winter closes in, those living out in the open are becoming increasingly vulnerable with freezing temperatures posing major health concerns.

The Red Cross Red Crescent aims to meet the immediate shelter and relief needs of some 570,000 people over the next six months.

Continued constraints

Logistical challenges continue. Many mountain roads are still blocked by landslides and aid has yet to reach some remote regions of Pakistan.

United Nations officials announced that hundreds of earthquake survivors in tented villages in Muzaffarabad have been affected with acute diarrhoea and doctors are investigating whether they are cases of cholera.

Snowfall, rain and freezing winds are all set to multiply the challenges faced by aid workers to control the further spread of waterborne diseases, which could pose an added threat to survivors. The need to scale up efforts to provide a safe water supply, adequate sanitation facilities and emergency health care is now a priority.

As at 3 November, the revised appeal of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for $160 million is only around 58% covered.

Red Cross/Red Crescent response in Pakistan

Australian Red Cross response

Australian Red Cross has so far deployed nine aid workers to support the global Red Cross and Red Crescent relief effort in Pakistan. They are:

  • Claire Collins (VIC), Muzaffarabad, helping set up and run the field hospital
  • Norma McRae (QLD), Islamabad and field, assessment and coordination of health activities
  • Mary-Ellen Fitzpatrick (NT) - has returned to Sri Lanka after a two week mission coordinating the receipt and deployment of Red Cross aid from Islamabad airport
  • Hang Vo (VIC), Islamabad and field, has returned to Australia after two weeks helping establish contact between separated or missing family members
  • Ian Woolverton (VIC) - has returned to Australia after completing a rapid ten day mission where he provided information support as well as liaised with Australian and international media
  • Agnes Beaton (NT) - has returned to Afghanistan after completing a two week mission as health coordinator for the International Red Cross in Islamabad
  • Margaret Brewster (NSW) - Muzaffarabad, four month mission as a Surgical Ward Nurse with the Red Cross field hospital
  • Leanne McKenry (VIC) - Muzaffarabad, four month mission as a Surgical Ward Nurse with the Red Cross field hospital
  • Denise Moyle (TAS) - Muzaffarabad, four month mission as a Surgical Ward Nurse with the Red Cross field hospital.

Australian Red Cross will be deploying seven more aid-workers in the coming weeks - mainly personnel with medical background as medical aid emerges as the second most urgent need behind shelter.


Red Cross logistic centres have been established in Islamabad, Muzaffarabad and Abbotabad. Smaller centres have been established in Mansehra and Balakot from which distributions to numerous outlying villages are being launched.

More than 187 Red Cross Red Crescent aid workers from Red Cross and Red Crescent partners are actively participating in the Asia earthquake operation, providing support to 400 volunteers and staff from the Pakistan Red Crescent.

Emergency Relief

  • almost 100,000 people have been assisted with emergency supplies but the objective is to reach around 570,000 people who are in need of emergency relief
  • So far Red Cross Red Crescent has distributed 13,000 winterised tents, 100,000 blankets, and 13,000 tarpaulins in Balakot, Baribhabibulla, Batagram and in Pakistan-administered Kashmir
  • 86 Red Cross cargo flights have arrived in Islamabad carrying an average of 30 tonnes each of relief goods, medical supplies, and emergency response equipment
  • The Pakistan Red Crescent and the International Red Cross have distributed a some 540 truckloads of relief materials in affected areas(as at 11 November 2005

Health care

  • 1,500 people per day are being treated in Red Cross/Red Crescent field hospitals and basic healthcare clinics.
  • One medical team is operating in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and three teams are working in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. They are travelling on foot and by helicopter to very remote areas, going village to village.
  • More than 30,000 people have received first aid or medical treatment from the Red Cross Red Crescent since the disaster.
  • A 100-bed hospital is operational in Rawalpindi. The hospital has surgical capabilities including orthopaedics as well as plastic/reconstruction facilities
  • Two Basic Health Care Units in Batagram and Balakot continue to see up to 300 patients per day. They are attending to outpatients suffering mainly from soft tissue injuries, waterborne diseases and skin infections
  • A 250-bed Red Cross and Red Crescent hospital in Abbottabad is now operational.
  • In Mansehra, some 4700 people have been treated in two field hospitals.

Water and sanitation

Some 150,000 litres of water are being provided daily by water and sanitation ERUs (Emergency Response Units) in Batagram and Balakot. Construction of water and sanitation facilities is underway in Abottabat, Batagram and Maira and latrine construction is ongoing in Abottabat and Batagram.

Restoring family links

The International Red Cross is helping villagers contact their loved one via Red Cross satellite phones whenever necessary. Red Cross is also working closely with Pakistani authorities to help children separated from their families, with a number of children already being reunited. The tracing needs are set to increase as peoples' emergency needs are met and they begin searching for family members.