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Oxfam aid flight leaves for Pakistan today

Media Release
For immediate release: Friday 14 October, 2005

Oxfam aid flight leaves for Pakistan today

An Oxfam aid flight carrying water tanks, blankets, and winter clothing for thousands of children left the UK for Pakistan this morning (NZ 5am). The aid flight, worth NZ$500,000, is carrying a 40 ton cargo, which will provide much needed relief for thousands of people made homeless by the Asian Earthquake.

Key items on the flight include:

Water tanks, pumps, pipes, testing kits and purification equipment to supply clean drinking water to thousands of people.

Winter clothes for 5,000 children.

1,000 square meters of tarpaulin for constructing temporary shelters.
30,000 blankets.

Speaking from Islamabad, Oxfam aid worker Shaista Aziz said: "Aid is now getting through to many areas but we still have massive logistical challenges to overcome. Providing access to shelter and warm clothing is vital to prevent the death toll from rising. As winter comes the blankets and children's winter clothing on this flight will help keep thousands of people warm.

“This flight is our second flight to the area in as many days and we have already started aid distribution in many areas with more trucks on the road to the most remote areas. We are doing everything we can to turn the stream of aid already getting through into a steady flow."

Oxfam are not looking for donations of materials. Cash donations are the best way to ensue we get help to people quickly.

- People can donate to the appeal now on the website www.oxfam.org.nz

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- The public can also give by phone on 0800 400 666.


Diary from Pakistan

Shaista Aziz, in Pakistan and Aditi Kapoor in India have both been keeping diaries since the earthquake struck – all posted on our website. Here is Shaista’s most recent – Day 6:

Oxfam's deputy programme manger walked calmly into the office "Good morning everyone- I hope you're well. Please can you kindly make your way out of the office, I have just received a warning that an earthquake may be on its way".

Day six of Oxfam's emergency relief effort and repeated earth tremors – there was a big one this morning - are adding to staff stress and exhaustion levels. But despite this we are really making progress with our work.

Another Oxfam aid plane is due into Islamabad airport early tomorrow morning with children's winter clothing, water equipment, hygiene kits and buckets. Our logistics teams are busy preparing to receive the flight. We're also working on sourcing thousands more blankets from Pakistan and Dubai.

This is a massive relief operation and it's all really coming together now as more supplies arrive. Oxfam should have a helicopter by early next week, which will help us to distribute aid to some of the most remote villages that have been devastated by this disaster.

Since the earthquake on Saturday morning Oxfam has been working around the clock. We've been assessing the needs of the survivors and working to get aid into Islamabad and then out to the worst affected areas in the North West frontier province and Pakistan administered Kashmir.

In the five days since the disaster Oxfam has distributed blankets and tents to communities in the North West of the country, Pakistan administered Kashmir and Indian administered Kashmir. We have already reached thousands of people in the North West and are building up our capacity to reach 300,000 people overall.

When a disaster like this strikes, the first and most important thing for Oxfam to do is gather accurate information from the ground so we know exactly what has happened, how much destruction there has been, the scale and loss of life and the most pressing needs of the survivors.

Emergency assessment teams are dispatched into affected areas to find out how badly the infrastructure has been damaged, whether communication systems in the area are working, and whether people have access to clean drinking water. Even before this information begins trickling in our logistics team start buying blankets, tents, hygiene kits, and emergency food rations. We try and buy the items in country where possible- but often we have to look further afield.

When working out storage and distribution plans we have to bear in mind the distances between areas and the state of the roads. We work with local partners who know the area well.

We aim to distribute the aid fairly and efficiently and give everyone an equal opportunity to get help. Often in these kinds of emergency situations women are the last ones to receive any kind of aid. They are usually weaker than the men and lack the strength to fight their way to the front of the crowd. Oxfam will be doing everything we can to ensure that this doesn't happen here. /end

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