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One year on, many survivors still at risk

Thursday October 5, 2006

Tens of thousands of people are facing a second winter without permanent shelter following the devastating earthquake which killed more than 73,000 people and made over 3.5 million homeless in northern Pakistan on 8 October 2005.

One year later, it is estimated that around 66,000 families are still without permanent shelter, while recent landslides and flooding have also left many quake survivors in a precarious position.

Australian Red Cross raised more than $8 million for the Asia Quake Appeal through generous contributions from the public, corporate donors and the Australian Government. These funds provided significant assistance during the emergency relief phase of the operation and now during recovery and reconstruction.
Twenty-five Australian Red Cross Aid workers have been sent to the affected areas to join the global Red Cross effort over the past year. Six Australians are still there, working in the areas of Logistics, Water and Sanitation and Health.

Mary-Ellen Fitzpatrick is an Australian Red Cross Aid worker working as a logistics specialist in Pakistan and preparing for the onset of the harsh northern winter.

'We are aiming to provide 10,000 families with additional relief supplies before winter hits, which will be tricky due to difficulty accessing many of the areas,' Mary-Ellen said. 'Monsoons, rock falls, landslides and eventually heavy snow will make progress slow but we will do all we can to reach those people most in need.'

In addition to these major obstacles, the greatest challenge is to complete the enormous recovery process..., restoring livelihoods, improving health and enabling survivors to get back to 'normal' life.

Red Cross is supporting recovery activities for a million people until the end of 2008, including the reconstruction of education, medical and community centres, the provision of primary health care and education, psychosocial support, water and sanitation facilities, skills training, and the distribution of seeds, fertilizer and farming tools.

'Compared to emergency relief operations, recovery is significantly more complex and challenging,' says Robert Tickner, CEO of Australian Red Cross. 'It is vital that this phase be completed in order to build on the good work that's already been done and ensure that vulnerable communities become more resilient to disasters in the future.'

Since the disaster struck, the Red Cross relief effort has

  • provided assistance to 1.1 million people
  • provided medical support to more than 500,000 people
  • distributed more than 70,000 tents, 132,000 tarpaulins and 22,000 shelter repair kits.