Urgent needs linger in Asia

Emergency relief is still urgently needed two weeks after a devastating earthquake rocked Pakistan and India, said disaster response agencies.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | October 24, 2005


Emergency relief is still urgently needed two weeks after a devastating earthquake rocked Pakistan and India, said disaster response agencies.

The death toll from the 7.7 quake is now more than 50,000 people.

Some hard hit communities are only now being reached by emergency workers, report both Action by Churches Together (ACT) and Church World Service Pakistan / Afghanistan (CWS P/A). Some residents have picked their way through roads blocked by piles of debris and rubble just to reach aid workers.

CWS P/A is reporting that one of the major needs is shelter. Thousands of people were made homeless when the powerful earthquake struck on Oct. 8. According to a report from the agency, tent cities are being set up to house homeless families but many are still having to sleep outside or under pieces of debris. Aid workers are working to quickly distribute shelter and food kits as winter sets in. Blankets are also needed as cold weather creeps into the region.

ACT member Norwegian Church Aid has sent tents for 6,000 people and 10,500 blankets and is planning another airlift this week with more tents and blankets and additional equipment for producing clean water.

Medical workers remain concerned about injured residents and disease outbreaks, especially among children. According to a report from ACT, "measles is one of the greatest threats to child survival in emergency situations, especially when their immune systems have been weakened by exposure and malnutrition."

Emergency workers are also concerned that children separated from their parents or orphaned by the earthquake will become easy prey for child traffickers.

The powerful earthquake struck the northwestern part of Pakistan and northeastern India, a very mountainous and rural area where villages and towns are often without telephones or decent roads.

ACT's partner agencies like the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Lutheran World Relief (LWR) are providing financial support in the initial relief stages. UMCOR and LWR representatives have said they will support the relief for the long-term.

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is also providing food, medical and shelter supplies to partner agencies within the affected countries.

All involved agencies remain worried about aid reaching the thousands of affected people in time before the winter's full brunt is upon the region.


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