South Asia earthquake: interview with the Speaker of Pakistan's National Assembly
The Speaker of the National Assembly in Pakistan, the Honourable Chaudhry Amir Hussain, has met with the ICRC's vice-president, Jacques Forster at the organization's Geneva headquarters to discuss the ICRC's involvement in relief efforts.
What are your feelings eleven days after the disaster?
First of all I am grateful that the Vice-President has received me here at the headquarters of the ICRC in Geneva. The conditions in Pakistan on October 8 were beyond words. In the areas affected, more than 30,000 people are known to have died and 60,000 have been injured. In addition about three million houses have been damaged. The ICRC was the first international organization to reach the affected areas and other agencies have also helped very much but the position is still miserable.
How are relief efforts progressing?
The disaster is on such a large scale that it is very difficult for one country to cope and we are looking forward to more help from the ICRC and other donor countries and organizations. The damage is much greater than that caused by the tsunami. The people are facing the winter with snowfall already beginning. There are two types of areas. First are the plains and secondly there are the mountainous areas. In these areas there are no roads and if it weren't for the helicopters no relief could be brought in. Mobile teams of medical doctors and field hospitals are there but a lot of work remains to be done.
What are the main needs of the victims?
The main needs are for temporary accommodation in the form of tents, warm clothing, blankets and medicines. As for food, people have been very generous and this is not a huge problem – the main priority is shelter and we appeal to the international community which has already helped us so much.