Wednesday October 19, 2005
According to official estimates, the October 8 earthquake has affected four million people (one million severely) and 500,000 have been displaced. The official death toll in Pakistan alone is now 40,000 and will continue to rise. The World Health organisation (WHO) estimates that 65,000 people have been injured, of whom some 50,000 remain untreated.
Food is not a priority at the moment as supplies seem adequate. Right now, the urgent needs are for shelter, medical supplies, health care and clean water. There is a real likelihood that many people will not survive the approaching winter if they do not receive humanitarian assistance in the coming weeks.
The logistical challenges are considerable. Mountainous terrain, damaged road networks and inclement weather continue to hamper relief efforts. In addition, airport congestion, cargo handling and sourcing transport continue to create problems.
The initial appeal of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for $72 million is less than 25 per cent covered (as at 19 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:
- Agnes Beaton (WA), Islamabad, helping coordinate the medical response
- 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, providing information support
- Mary-Ellen Fitzpatrick (NT) - Islamabad airport, in charge of the logistical operation
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 will be organised.
- 19 Red Cross cargo flights have been received in Islamabad
- The Pakistan Red Crescent and the international Red Cross have distributed a total of 189 truckloads of relief materials in affected areas. This number is expected to significantly increase in the coming days
- 4,000 winterised tents have been distributed, with a further 36,000 in the relief pipeline
- 92,000 blankets are currently being distributed in Pakistan. A further 231,000 have been procured and are on their way to Pakistan
- Families living in regions of Kashmir accessible by road will receive one-off non-food packages containing tents, blankets, tarpaulins, soap, jerry cans, kitchen sets, warm clothes and shoes
- Red Cross relief distributions to people accessible by road are expected to continue at the rate of 5,000 families a week
- 10,000 families in remoter 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
Water and sanitation
- The Pakistan Red Crescent has eight medical teams made up of 55 doctors and medics travelling on foot and by helicopter to very remote areas, going village to village
- Some 11,330 people have been treated by the Red Crescent since the earthquake mainly for fractures, soft tissue injuries and lacerations
- A 30 tonne mobile field hospital is being established in Muzaffarabad. The hospital has a 100 bed capacity and extensive surgical facilities.
- An additional basic health care unit will be set up to deal with outpatients, and to handle referrals to the larger field hospital
- Basic health care Emergency Response Units (ERU) are 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
A Red Cross water and sanitation team has been working at the main pumping station in Muzaffarabad in an effort to restore water to the beleaguered city. As a result of these efforts, almost 60 per cent of the city is now getting running water for five hours a day. There are still many leaks in the system that need repair.
Restoring family links
The Red Cross continues to visit medical evacuees. Authorities are providing over 10,000 beds through out Pakistan for evacuees. Many have retained links with their families. Where this is not the case, the Red Cross is endeavouring to re-establish links. A number of unaccompanied children have already been registered.