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Operational update on the humanitarian activities of Red Cross and Red Crescent in response to the Asia quake - 17 October 2005


Monday October 17, 2005

Background

The UN estimates the disaster has affected 4 million people (1 million severely) and made 500,000 people homeless. The official death toll in Pakistan, as reported by the authorities, stands at 25,000 while Indian authorities say 1,300 people have died in Jammu and Kashmir in that country's north.

With many people continuing to live in the open and with winter approaching, there remains an urgent need to distribute to them items such as winterised tents, stoves, blankets, warm clothing, medicines, food and potable water.

Continued constraints

Inclement weather in Pakistan-administered Kashmir continues to occasionally hamper relief efforts. In addition, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) reported on 14 October that only 15 % of the revised Preliminary Emergency Appeal has been covered.

As winter is rapidly approaching, road transport is becoming increasingly unreliable. Remote communities in the hills and mountains will be made even more vulnerable once the weather deteriorates. Winter snow is just four weeks away for communities in the mountain areas.

However, reports from the field indicate that activities to support those affected by the disaster are moving into full swing, with relevant logistics in place, and distributions to the stricken areas gearing up rapidly.

Red Cross/Red Crescent response in Pakistan

Logistics

A 17 member Field Assessment Coordination Team (FACT) has been deployed to Pakistan to assess the immediate and long-term needs of those affected by the earthquake. The team comprises members from all over the world, including Australia.

By the end of this week, a total of five helicopters will be operational in and around Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the region worst-affected by the October 8 quake.

Emergency Relief

In addition to pre-positioned relief supplies already being mobilised, the following emergency relief items have either arrived or are en route to Muzaffarabad or surrounding areas:

  • 122,720 blankets
  • 24,390 tarpaulins
  • 12,250 kitchen sets
  • 6,200 winterised tents
  • 1320 food packs*
  • Assorted food aid
*The food pack contains 5kgs rice, 5kgs sugar, 3kgs daal channa, 400gms tea, 1kg milk powder

In the first week following the quake, a total of 21 truckloads of relief were dispatched from Pakistan Red Crescent national headquarters in Islamabad. In total, including dispatches from provincial branches, a total of 59 truckloads of relief have been sent to affected areas.

Health Care

Two Pakistan Red Crescent Society heath teams have been working in Muzaffarabad since 11 October. Each team comprises two doctors, eight paramedics and an ambulance. The teams have so far treated 800 people. Another team of 12 volunteer doctors and eight volunteer paramedics is travelling to remote communities around Muzaffarabad to provide assistance as needed.

Two further Pakistan Red Crescent medical teams are operating in North West Frontier Province.

A 30 tonne mobile field hospital is being established on a cricket ground in Muzaffarabad. The hospital has a 100 bed capacity as well as extensive surgical facilities and will greatly increase the Red Cross' capacity to meet the needs of affected people.

Two more basic health Emergency Response Units (ERUs) have arrived in Islamabad, and will be deployed to support communities in and around Batgram and Balakot.

Five emergency health kits have been transported to Abbotabad in North West Frontier Province. Each kit includes medicines, disposables and instruments to support 10,000 people for three months.

The Pakistan Red Crescent Blood Bank in Islamabad continues to collect blood, and has now collected a total of 508 units, of which 246 have been utilised.

Water and sanitation

Three water and sanitation Emergency Response Units (ERUs) are either en route or have arrived in Pakistan.

International Red Cross water engineers have started work on repairing Muzaffarabad's main water treatment plant. Reports indicate that the city's pipe system has remained fairly intact, meaning that there is a good chance of a quick resumption of water supplies for many parts of Muzaffarabad.

Restoring family links

25 Red Crescent volunteers have been visiting hospitals in Islamabad to help re-establish links between family members who have been separated since the earthquake. Over 30 'I am alive' messages have been collected, details of 25 separated children have been registered, and over 50 telephone contacts have been arranged.

Tracing activities are expected to increase over the coming days across all affected areas, and one Australian Red Cross tracing delegate will support these efforts.

Jehlum valley

Red Cross Red Crescent aid efforts in the severely affected Jehlum valley are only now getting underway, having been hampered by poor or non-existent access to the region. The Kashmir district has a population of about 150,000and has suffered some 8,500 casualties.

The Red Cross will soon deploy a basic health ERU to the region along with an assessment team. The needs of those still living in Jehlum remain critical.

In India

An Indian Red Cross-led convoy of four trucks was deployed to Tanghdar from Srinagar on Saturday 15 October. It carried 28 doctors and medical supplies as well as tents, blankets and kitchen sets.

The Indian Red Cross has indicated to the International Red Cross that affected people in Jammu and Indian-administered Kashmir remain in need of tents, blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets and clothing.

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