Bulletin No. 21 - South Asia earthquake
04-11-2005 Operational Update
In the aftermath of the earthquake in South Asia, the ICRC has issued an emergency appeal for additional funding and is concentrating its relief efforts on providing medical assistance, shelter, food and water to those affected.
Latest report on ICRC activities in the field
ICRC president announces assistance for an extra 10,000 families in the mountains
During his visit to Pakistan, the president of the ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger, announced that the organization would provide assistance to an additional 10,000 families affected by the earthquake in remote mountain regions that are accessible only by air. This puts the total number of people the ICRC plans to assist at 200,000 instead of the 150,000 figure originally announced. So far, the ICRC has assisted over 46,000 people in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The decision to increase aid reflects the huge need for shelter and blankets of people living in the mountains as winter fast approaches. Another factor was the ICRC's ability to deliver the aid. With seven helicopters now in operation, the ICRC has been able to move more goods than initially anticipated, over 718 tonnes so far.
The plan is now to assist half of the beneficiaries by air, in Neelum valley and the remote villages, and another half by road in the accessible areas of Jhelum valley and Muzaffarabad. Weather conditions in the coming weeks will obviously determine how these plans evolve.
Reaching as many as people as possible
Because most families still have some food reserves left, the ICRC is giving priority to providing as many people as possible with shelter materials as weather conditions worsen.
In the upper mountain areas, tarpaulins serve the population better than tents, because they can be used together with materials retrieved from destroyed homes, such as tin sheets, wood and panels, to build dry huts. In addition, tarpaulins are much lighter and more compact than tents, allowing helicopters to transport up to 16 times more tarpaulins than tents in one rotation.
For the ICRC, the equation is therefore the following: give tarpaulins and blankets first and distribute two-month instead of three-month food rations during the pre-winter months.
Supplying clean water to the health units
The two ICRC basic health care units in Pathika (Neelum valley) and Chinari (Jhelum valley) need clean water to function and ensure the best possible conditions for patient treatment.
In Chinari, the village's water supply came from a spring that has been blocked by landslides. The only source of water left is the river situated 60 meters downhill. The repair of the former water supply will be difficult as the ground is unstable and prevents the building of a new pipeline. An ICRC water and habitat engineer is therefore setting up a temporary water supply for the basic health care unit, run by the Japanese Red Cross, and the population living in the vicinity. The water will be pumped directly from the river and disinfected in a small water treatment unit.
ICRC teams have also re-established the water supply in Pathika by building three distribution points for the resident population and one for the basic health care unit run by the Finnish Red Cross. A standpipe will soon complete the installation.
The authorities say they have now restored safe water distribution in the main earthquake-affected towns. This involves using water tankers in some areas.
ICRC president meets the chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society
During a meeting with the chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Mr Jahan Dad Khan, on 3 November, Mr Kellenberger underlined the importance for the ICRC of working in close partnership with the PRCS, which is well-established in the country. The ICRC carries out many of its relief operations together with PRCS staff and supports the society's own activities.
For further information, please contact:
Islamabad / Pakistan
mobile +92 300 850 81 38
satellite phone: +88 216 89 80 41 45
attention: L. Berlemont
(ICRC Islamabad central tel. +92 51 282 47 80 or 282 47 52)
Muzaffarabad / Pakistan-administered Kashmir
Jessica Barry, ICRC Muzaffarabad, + 92 300 852 87 04
or Helena Laatio (ICRC/Finnish Red Cross), satellite phone +88 2165 420 7201
New Delhi / India
mobile +91 98 11 80 66 33
(ICRC New Delhi central tel. +91 11 24 35 23 38/97 or 24 35 43 94/95/96)
Geneva / Switzerland
mobile +41 79 217 32 64
ICRC Geneva press secretariat
tel. +41 22 730 34 43
Pakistan: GMT + 4 hours; India: GMT + 4.5 hours; Geneva: GMT +1