OCHA - Geneva Natural Disasters Highlights No. 4

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 30 Apr 2006
Pakistan earthquake: six months after
8 October - 8 April - Six months after the earthquake, reconstruction has begun in countless villages and hamlets. The internally displaced persons are gradually returning to their place of origin.

The relief efforts have been relatively successful. A second wave of deaths was avoided. No massive population movements took place. No epidemics broke out. More than 500,000 tents were delivered; some 5 million-iron sheets were distributed; over 6 million blankets/quilts were provided. A nutrition survey showed no major food deficiency compared to the pre-earthquake level. Recorded mortality in the affected areas was not higher than during the previous winter. Thousands of latrine slabs were installed; safe water was restored for over 700,000 people. Over 1 million children were vaccinated against measles. Countless helicopters -- from the Pakistani Military, United Nations, NATO, United States and other countries -- airlifted food and non-food items.

Heavy rains continue to hamper relief efforts in some areas. Numerous landslides have occurred and have blocked several roads. There remains a very high risk of mudslides blocking key access roads in the coming weeks.

Efforts of the humanitarian response community currently focus on assisted IDP returns. According to UNHCR, more than 64,000 people have left the relief camps to return home. Thirty camps have closed, leaving 86,750 people in over 120 camps of over 50 tents. The IDP returns process is being monitored on a continuous basis, from the point of departure and en route, with the focus now shifting to place-of-origin monitoring. Surveys show that returns are voluntary;

UNHAS has exhausted its funding for the ongoing relief/recovery helicopter operation. With the exception of the four DFID funded helicopters, which are supported up to the end of May 2006, operations are in danger of being suspended. The 4 DFID funded helicopters are able to cater for only 10% of the current workload given to UNHAS by the humanitarian community.

In order to continue the operation up until the end of April 2006 and give the UN time to secure funding through the Action Plan and its process, UNHAS would immediately need some US$ 4 million against the 18.5 million US$ required until the end of August 2006.

It is expected that, in the absence of even limited airlift capacity, relief/recovery programmes will be seriously affected and delayed in the coming weeks and months due to landslides, flooding, and the need to adhere to minimum safety standards. Donkeys and mules are not available in sufficient numbers to convey the volume of tools, equipment and other items presently planned.

The OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG) mission, comprising of representatives from Belgium, Canada, ECHO, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and USA, visited Pakistan for six days. The aim was to review the overall humanitarian response to the earthquake and the role of OCHA, to comprehend the challenges foreseen for sustainable recovery and to develop an understanding of how best to support the Government of Pakistan in its recovery and reconstruction efforts.

AFRICA

Drought in the Horn of Africa

7 April - United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, launched on 7 April an appeal for $426 million to support the urgent needs of more than eight million people severely affected by drought in the Horn of Africa.

Poverty-stricken and conflict-affected people living in parts of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have been suffering from water shortages and declining access to food resulting from several years of successive rainfall failures and the rapid erosion of assets and livelihoods.

Initial funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was made available to the United Nations agencies in all five countries to enable them to jump-start their activities ahead of the anticipated donor response to the regional appeal.

As part of the response to the recurrent drought and chronic food insecurity devastating the region, the United Nations appointed former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik as Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa. As the Special Humanitarian Envoy, Mr. Bondevik travelled to Kenya from 21 to 23 February 2006; a more extensive mission to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia is planned for the end of April.

Tindouf Floods - Algeria

10 February 2006 - very heavy rain caused flooding in the region of Tindouf, Algeria --about 50-60kms from the Moroccan and Mauritanian borders-- in an area with refugee camps affecting reportedly 12,000 families.

An Emergency Cell was created involving UNHCR, WFP and CRA (Algerian Red Crescent). Rapid assessment missions were undertaken jointly by the three agencies on the same day, in order to evaluate the extent of the casualties, damages and most immediate needs. UNHCR distributed tents, blankets, plastic sheets, mattresses and jerry cans to the affected area from their Jordanian stockpile. OCHA provided relief items through the Brindisi stock.

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