UN agencies rush to prepare Pakistani earthquake survivor camps for winter

3 November 2006

Humanitarian agencies and the United Nations are speedily trying to prepare tented camps for winter in the rugged mountains of northern Pakistan, where more than 2 million survivors are still living after the deadly 2005 earthquake that killed 80,000 and left 2.5 million homeless, the United Nations humanitarian affairs coordination office said today.

With poor weather conditions making mountain roads impassable, UN helicopters are set to resume flights next week to remote quake-hit regions in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights will carry building and agriculture materials to remote areas and plans to run at least five helicopters during its three-month winter operation from November until January 2007, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), which manages UNHAS.

WFP already reaches one million survivors and guarantees winter food supplies for hundreds of thousands in remote mountain communities.

To improve living conditions among survivors, the Norwegian Refugee Council is heading up the upgrade of 40 makeshift camps, mostly located in Muzzafarabad, Kashmir’s capital, and construction should be completed by mid-December.

The massive quake in October 2005 ripped through thousands of homes, causing extensive damage, with some 600,000 rural and 30,000 urban dwellings affected across mountainous terrain stretching 30,000 square kilometres.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) expects to release a winter-needs assessment report for the region next week.


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