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Operational update on the humanitarian activities of Red Cross and Red Crescent in response to the Asia quake (28/10/05)

Friday October 28, 2005


According to official estimates, the October 8 earthquake has affected 3.3 million people (1 million severely) with 500,000 displaced. The official death toll in Pakistan alone is 54,400 (as at 26 October) and is expected to rise further. The World Health Organisation and authorities estimate 78,000 people have been injured.

Medical assistance and shelter 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.

Continued constraints

The logistical challenges remain enormous. Mountainous terrain and bad weather conditions are limiting relief efforts. Also hampering the aid effort are frequent aftershocks. Limited infrastructure and the high volume of incoming relief goods continue to strain resources at the airport in Islamabad.

Agencies estimate that more than 20 per cent of the affected areas are yet to be assessed (as at 26 October).

The revised appeal of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for $160 million is currently less than 50 per cent covered (as at 27 October).

Red Cross/Red Crescent response in Pakistan

Australian Red Cross response

Australian Red Cross has so far deployed 6 aid workers to support the global Red Cross and Red Crescent relief effort in Pakistan. They are:

  • Hang Vo (VIC), Islamabad and field, helping establish contact between separated or missing family members
  • Claire Collins (VIC), Muzaffarabad, helping set up the field hospital
  • Norma McRae (QLD), Islamabad and field, assessment and coordination of health activities
  • Ian Woolverton (VIC) - Islamabad and field, providing information support
  • Mary-Ellen Fitzpatrick (NT) - Islamabad airport, in charge of the logistical operation
  • Agnes Beaton (NT) - has returned to Afghanistan after completing a two week mission as health coordinator for the International Red Cross in Islamabad

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 100 Red Cross Red Crescent aid workers from 25 Red Cross and Red Crescent partners are actively participating in the Asia earthquake operation, providing support to hundreds of volunteers and staff from the Pakistan Red Crescent.

Red Cross Logistics Emergency Response Units (ERU) and IT/Telecommunications ERUs have been deployed to support the huge Red Cross Red Crescent response.

Emergency Relief

  • Red Cross has to date distributed 9,000 winterised tents and 40,000 blankets to affected areas. A further 70,000 tents and 30,000 tarpaulins are in the pipeline
  • Red Cross has mobilised 2,000 jerry cans; 31370 tarpaulins; 19,596 kitchen sets; 10,000 kerosene lamps; and 17 new emergency health kits
  • 40 Red Cross cargo flights have arrived in Islamabad carrying over 1,600 tonnes of relief goods, medical supplies, and emergency response equipment
  • The Pakistan Red Crescent and the International Red Cross have distributed a total of 200 truckloads of relief materials in affected areas (as at 25 October). This number is increasing every day.
  • 10,000 families in more remote areas will receive a three-month supply of food, as it is expected that winter-weather will make access to these areas increasingly difficult in the coming months.

Health care

  • Ten Pakistan Red Crescent medical teams made up of doctors and medics are travelling on foot and by helicopter to remote areas, going village to village.
  • Over 16,000 people have been treated by these teams since the earthquake, mainly for fractures, soft tissue injuries and lacerations.
  • A 30 tonne mobile field hospital has been established in Muzaffarabad. The hospital has a 100 bed capacity and extensive surgical facilities. So far, 47 severely injured earthquake victims have been admitted, including 18 children.
  • The field hospital carried out 80 operations in the first three days of function
  • A basic health care Emergency Response Unit (ERU) has been set up to deal with outpatients from the field hospital as well as referrals. The aim of the ERU is to perform minor surgery and the slightly injured to relieve pressure on the field hospital. Staff at this facility have treated over 100 patients.
  • Basic health care ERUs are also being established in some of the worst affected areas: in the Neehlum and Jehlum valleys, and in Chikar.
  • In addition, ERUs will be established in Batagram and Balakot, each with the capacity to handle 30,000 patients for three months, whilst another is on its way to Abbotabad.
  • Pakistan Red Crescent's Blood Bank in Islamabad has now collected 1,081 units of blood since October 8.

Water and sanitation

A Red Cross water and sanitation unit is now in Balakot. This unit is able to provide water for 40,000 people a day, transport 75,000 litres a day and provide latrines for 40,000 people. An additional water and sanitation unit is being established in 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.

Red Cross response in India

So far, the Indian Red Cross Society and the International Red Cross have distributed or mobilised the following relief items to earthquake survivors in Kashmir and Jammu:

  • over 1,200 tents
  • more than 71,000 blankets
  • approximately 11,000 kitchen sets
  • 1,300 food packs

The Indian Red Cross has also supplied medicines to a health-care facility in Poonch and a water purifier to the hospital in Uri.