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UN Launches $272-Million Appeal To Help Pakistan

Quake: UN Launches $272-Million Appeal To Help Pakistan Over Next Six Months

The United Nations today launched a $272-million flash appeal for Pakistan to help it recover from last Saturday’s devastating earthquake, which killed tens of thousands of people, injured tens of thousands more and left 1 million others in acute need of assistance and 2 million homeless.

The appeal aims at life-saving and early recovery activities for a six-month emergency phase in a remote region which provides enormous logistical difficulties with landslides cutting off many roads, allowing access only by foot or helicopter to areas where more than 80 per cent of buildings have been destroyed.

“Due to strong and frequent aftershocks, survivors are afraid to return to those buildings damaged by the earthquake,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. “Many are sleeping in the open. There is an urgent need for winterized tents to house these people, as the temperatures are beginning to drop, and winter expected to start in three weeks.

“Medical care is also critically needed, as most of the hospitals and heath care centres have been destroyed. Food and clean water are also in short supply,” it added.

The appeal will cover priority needs including shelter (winterized tents, plastic sheets, blankets, mattresses), nutrition (pre-cooked canned food, high energy biscuits, survival rations), medicines (antibiotics, typhoid medicines, first aid and surgical kits, water purification tablets) and transport (helicopters).

Many cities and villages in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the most affected areas, have been wiped out. “More than 4 million people are affected, of whom 1 million are in acute need of assistance and 2 million homeless,” OCHA said.

UN agencies are already on the ground bringing in convoys of relief aid.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has already begun distributing basic relief supplies for up to 100,000 people using its existing stockpiles throughout the region, including family tents, blankets and stoves. The first truckloads bound for Mansehra in North West Frontier Province left the Peshawar warehouse yesterday.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is initially airlifting 200 metric tons of high energy biscuits, sufficient for 240,000 people, vital in the first days of a natural disaster when survivors have no means to cook their own food.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has begun trucking in medical supplies, warning that tens of thousands of women in the affected areas are currently pregnant, and need adequate nutrition, medicines and antenatal care to deliver safely.

Many other UN agencies are already at work too, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) said the quake proved again how important it is to build safe hospital and schools in disaster-prone areas. Many schools were damaged during the earthquake with the result that children were buried alive under the rubble.

“Reinforcing buildings in disaster-prone areas is essential. Losing hospitals becomes a ‘double disaster’ if they are not built to withstand earthquakes: a disaster in that they are destroyed, but also that their equipment and their staff are no longer available to rescue other victims,” ISDR Director Salvano Briceño said.

“The destruction of schools, as has tragically happened last Saturday, means the loss of new generations. New constructions need to be built safe, and old ones need to be systematically reinforced or retrofitted to avoid future disasters.”

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