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Response To Asian Earthquake “A Disgrace”

9 November 2005

Response To Asian Earthquake “A Disgrace”

One month on from the Asian earthquake, Save the Children is calling on the international community to dramatically scale up its response.

The earthquake has claimed nearly 80,000 lives and unless more is done to assist the reported 3.5 million homeless and 79,000 injured, thousands more could die from disease and exposure, the charity warns.

Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand John Bowis says: "Governments have been much slower to release funding than after the tsunami, despite the fact that there are over 50% more people displaced and we are racing against the harsh Himalayan winter. Every day, it is getting colder and people will not survive long in the open or in makeshift shelters. Young children are particularly vulnerable. Our teams on the ground urgently need additional funds now to reach these families before it is too late."

One month on from the devastating earthquake less than a quarter of the $US 550m appealed for by the United Nations has been pledged, and nearly half of this figure ($US 60m) remains undelivered. Save the Children is spending $US 6.9m in the region but this will run out in another month, and thousands more may die unnecessarily unless further funds are secured.

“It is a disgrace that the international community has committed such a small proportion of what the UN
has asked for - one month later - and with winter closing in," says Toby Porter, Save the Children UK’s Emergencies Director. "Within days of the quake, the message from the UN was clear. The world needed to provide both an instant and a massive response. The challenges we are facing today were all predicted. The international community should collectively hang its head in shame.”

The scale of the international response to the UN appeal is in stark contrast to that for the tsunami, when international donors pledged over $US 700m for immediate emergency relief in the first two weeks.

Tsunami Kashmir Earthquake
Number of dead >200,000 >75,000
Number of homeless c. 2 million >3.5 million
Initial UN appeal $US 977m $US 550m
Pledges to UN appeal, one month on $US 775m (79%) $US 131m (24%)
NZ Government pledge $NZ 68m $NZ 1.5m
Average temperature at night, one month on 22°C and stable 0°C and falling

The earthquake destroyed 70% of houses in the affected areas and damaged the remainder, leaving up to 3.5 million people in 15,000 villages homeless and in need of medical care, water and sanitation support.

Save the Children New Zealand requests donations urgently via freephone 0800 167 168 or online at www.savethechildren.org.nz. All donations are directed through to the International Save the Children Alliance-led emergency programme, operational on both sides of the Pakistan/India border.

ENDS

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