Pakistan: UN food agency to feed 1.3 million quake survivors through winter

5 December 2005

The United Nations World Food programme (WFP) can guarantee winter food supplies for hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors in remote high-altitude villages in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, but continuing donor support is vital for one of the most challenging logistical operations the agency has ever faced.

The United Nations World Food programme (WFP) can guarantee winter food supplies for hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors in remote high-altitude villages in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, but continuing donor support is vital for one of the most challenging logistical operations the agency has ever faced.

Over the weekend WFP and the Government agreed that the agency should take on responsibility for providing emergency food to 400,000 people who can only be reached by air, double the previous target figure of 200,000.

“With better information and more surveys, we now believe that up to 400,000 people can be reached only by air in high villages where access roads are blocked by landslides or will be covered with too much snow to pass in a few weeks,” WFP Executive Director James Morris said after touring some of the affected areas.

“To help the people in areas only accessible by air, we will have to fly in 6,000 tons of food a month. Our helicopters will be more vital than ever and sustained donor support will be absolutely essential,” he added.

In addition to the people reachable only by air, WFP has also accepted responsibility for 600,000 people who can be reached by land – including 250,000 living in camps – as well as 150,000 children in tented schools and a further 150,000 children under five and nursing and pregnant mothers who will receive supplementary feeding.

In addition to the 1.3 million people aided by WFP, the Government will provide assistance to 3 million people and ICRC will help 150,000 others. The 8 October quake killed some 80,000 people, injured as many others and left up to 3 million homeless.

WFP has to date distributed about 21,000 tons of food to 1 million people in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.

“Winter has arrived. The first cold weather-related deaths have been reported. Our air operations, on which much of the humanitarian community relies, will face increasing disruptions because of poor visibility,” Mr. Morris warned. “Roads have already begun to become impassable because of slick conditions and rock- or mudslides. The worse the conditions become on the ground, the more heavily we will rely on our helicopters.”

Out of a total of the $182 million required for emergency operations including support for the air shipment of various relief supplies, WFP is still seeking nearly $115 million. “Our donors have been supportive and I expect this shortfall to decrease soon – especially after the generous offer from the Government of Pakistan and the provincial government in Muzaffarabad to provide nearly 56,000 tons of food for WFP to distribute,” Mr. Morris said.

 

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