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


Thursday November 3, 2005

Background

The World Health Organisation and authorities estimate that 3.3 million people have been affected by the October 8 earthquake (1 million severely), and 500,000 have been displaced. Among the one million severely affected, women and children appear to have borne the brunt of this disaster. The official death toll in Pakistan alone is 73,000 (as at 3 November), with 82,500 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 becoming increasingly vulnerable with freezing temperatures posing major health concerns.

Continued constraints

The relief operation continues to face unprecedented logistical challenges. Mountainous terrain and bad weather conditions are limiting relief efforts, whilst recent aftershocks have caused landslides, blocking newly restored roads and disrupting ongoing relief operations.

Aid agencies estimate that more than 20 per cent of the affected areas are yet to be fully assessed. The start of December is the deadline to get the basics of life such as winterised tents to as many people as possible before the onset of winter, when temperatures in the affected area will plummet below zero.

As at 3 November, the revised appeal of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for $160 million is only around 37% covered.

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:

  • Claire Collins (VIC), Muzaffarabad, helping set up the field hospital
  • Norma McRae (QLD), Islamabad and field, assessment and coordination of health activities
  • Mary-Ellen Fitzpatrick (NT) - Islamabad airport, coordinating the receipt and deployment of Red Cross aid
  • 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 10 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

Logistics

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 110 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.

Emergency Relief

  • Red Cross Red Crescent has to date distributed 11,000 winterised tents, 86,500 blankets, and 11,500 tarpaulins in Balakot, Baribhabibulla, Batagram and in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. A further 70,000 tents are in the pipeline
  • 42 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 28 October)

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 20,000 people have received first aid or medical evacuation by these teams since the disaster.
  • A 100-bed Pakistan Red Crescent hospital is fully operation in Rawalpindi. The hospital has surgical capabilities including orthopaedics as well as plastic/reconstruction facilities
  • A 30 tonne mobile Red Cross field hospital has been established in Muzaffarabad. The hospital's capacity is being increased to 150 beds and has extensive surgical facilities. So far, over 220 consultations have been conducted
  • 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 unit is treating over 100 patients every day
  • Basic health care ERUs are also being established in some of the worst affected areas: in the Neehlum and Jehlum valleys, and in Chikar
  • Two more Basic health care ERUs in Batagram and Balakot, have seen more than 1,500 patients. Combined they continue to see up to 200 patients per day. Each facility has the capacity to assist 30,00 patients for up to 3 months
  • Additional basic health care ERUs have recently opened in Pathika (Neelum valley) and Chinari (Jhelum valley)
  • A 250-bed Red Cross hospital in Abbotabad is also being established

Water and sanitation

A water and sanitation ERU is in Balakot, where it is distributing about 20,000 litres of safe water per day to people in urban and surrounding areas

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, with a number of children already being reunited.

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