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


Thursday December 1, 2005

Background

The World Health Organisation and authorities estimate that some 3.5 million people have been left homeless by the October 8 earthquake, while the official death toll in Pakistan is now more than 86,000 with 128,000 people 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 increasingly vulnerable with freezing temperatures posing major health concerns

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

Continued constraints

Logistical challenges continue. A total of 1,340 aftershocks have taken place since the original earthquake, some registering as high as 6.0 on the Richter scale. These continuous aftershocks serve to compound the difficulties presented by the mountainous terrain, high altitudes and remoteness of some of the affected communities.

However, Red Cross Red Crescent annlounced on 22 November that it will continue with relief programs throughout the winter. As at 29 November, the revised appeal of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for $160 million is approximately 63% covered.

Red Cross/Red Crescent response in Pakistan

Australian Red Cross response

Personnel

Australian Red Cross has so far deployed twelve 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
  • Margaret Brewster (NSW) - Muzaffarabad, four month mission as a Surgical Ward Nurse at the Red Cross field hospital
  • Leanne McKenry (VIC) - Muzaffarabad, four month mission as a Surgical Ward Nurse at the Red Cross field hospital
  • Denise Moyle (TAS) - Muzaffarabad, four month mission as a Surgical Ward Nurse at the Red Cross field hospital
  • Margaret Staff (Vic) - Muzaffarabad, four month mission as head nurse at the Red Cross field hospital
  • Denise Tyler (NSW) - working with mobile Red Cross Red Crescent medical teams, providing assistance to those people living in more isolated communities
  • Patti Harrod (NSW) - Muzaffarabad, four month mission as a operating theatre nurse
  • 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
  • ,li>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
Australian Red Cross will be deploying ten more aid-workers in the coming weeks.

Funding

Funds raised by Australian Red Cross have so far been directed towards the purchase and distribution of relief items such as tents, blankets, medical supplies and emergency health kits.

Logistics

Over 1,190 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and Pakistan Red Crescent staff remain involved in the massive Red Cross Red Crescent humanitarian operation, providing assistance with logistics, relief distributions, tracing and health activities.

In addition, there are 340 Red Cross Red Crescent expatriate staff working in Islamabad and the affected areas.

Emergency Relief

  • To date the entire Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement has reached a total of 300,000 people affected by the earthquake
  • The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies aims to distribute 70,000 tents to quake survivors by the end of December
  • 23,771 tents, 282,588 blankets, 66,131 tarpaulins and 4,264 jerry cans have been distributed in rural areas surrounding Balakot, Garhi Habibullah, Batagram and Muzaffarabad
  • Over 100 Red Cross relief flights have arrived in Islamabad, bringing with them relief goods, medical supplies and emergency response equipment
  • Some 850 truck-loads of relief materials have been distributed in affected areas

Health care

  • Since the start of the relief operation, 42,957 patients have received health care from Red Cross and Red Crescent medical personnel
  • Since 21 October, staff at the Red Cross field hospital in Muzaffarabad have performed 319 surgical operations
  • In Abbotabad, a Red Cross field hospital has started long-term clinical therapies, treating 75 patients every day for psychological and physiotherapeutic traumas
  • In Mansehra, two Red Cross Red Crescent field hospitals have treated 4,700 people
  • In Balakot, a Red Cross Basic Health Care Emergency Response Unit (BHC ERU) has treated almost 2,500 patients, whilst in Batagram, another BHC ERU has treated 4,407 patients
  • BHC ERUs in the Jehlum Valley, Neehlum Valley and in Muzaffarabad have performed more than 5,500 consultations
  • Mobile Red Cross and Red Crescent medical teams have reached a total of 7,605 people in and around Beshan, Shangla and Pachton
  • The Pakistan Red Crescent has received 18,166 patients at a health facility in Chakoti in Pakistan-administered Kashmir
  • Four Red Cross Red Crescent psychosocial support teams are being established in Batagram, Balakot, Darihabibula and Islamabad
  • Up to 9,500 people in one camp for displaced people in Islamabad have been targeted for psychosocial support

Water and sanitation

  • Approximately 30,000 people have benefited so far from Red Cross Red Crescent water and sanitation facilities
  • Water and sanitation ERUs in Batagram, Balakot and Maira are providing 250,00 litres of clean water everyday

Restoring family links

Since the earthquake, more than 1,000 calls have been made using satellite and mobile phones provided by the Red Cross. These calls have enabled people, mainly in isolated villages in the Jehlum and Neehlum valleys or in hospitals, to make initial contact with their relatives to inform them where and how they are and pass on news of other people they know.

As more camps spring up, be they run by the government, army or other organizations, the Red Cross makes visits to assess tracing needs and register unaccompanied and separated children. Further assessments have confirmed that most people know where their relatives are and have the means to keep in touch with them.
The number of unaccompanied children registered by the Red Cross has risen to 73 but still represents a small fraction of the surviving population. A total of 59 of these children are now back in touch, or have been reunited, with their families

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