China

China: Sichuan Earthquake Emergency Appeal No. MDRCN003 Operations Update No. 17

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The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 185 countries.

GLIDE: EQ-2008-000062-CHN

Period covered by this Update: 12 August - 31 October 2008

Appeal target (current): CHF 96.7 million (USD 92.7 million or EUR 59.5 million)

Appeal coverage: Currently, with contributions received to date, in cash and kind, and those in the pipeline, the appeal is approximately 87% covered. A revised emergency appeal will be issued in early November.

Appeal history:

- This emergency appeal was revised on 30 May 2008 for CHF 96.7 million (USD 92.7 million or EUR 59.5 million) to support the Red Cross Society of China to assist around 100,000 families (up to 500,000 people) for 36 months.

- The emergency appeal was launched on 15 May 2008 for CHF 20,076,412 (USD 19.3 million or EUR 12.4 million) to assist 100,000 beneficiaries for 12 months.

- Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF): CHF 250,000 was allocated from the International Federation's DREF to support the RCSC's response to the earthquake.

Summary: The 8.0 magnitude earthquake on 12 May devastated eight provinces, most heavily hitting Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi, killing more than 80,000, with still many thousands missing. Over 15 million people were displaced, including over five million that were left without shelter.

The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) continues to support affected communities by delivering relief supplies. In the month of October, 100,000 quilts and hygiene kits have been procured and distributed to all three affected provinces. Additional food and quilts will be procured and distributed in the weeks to come.

The joint RCSC and International Federation shelter assessment was conducted in September, with recommendations shared with partners at a meeting in Beijing on 9-10 of October. A revised appeal based on reconstruction projects and community-based programming, will be ironed out in early November.

Many partner national societies and other entities have made contributions to the appeal. Details are available in the current donor response list. The International Federation, on behalf of the Red Cross Society of China, would like to thank all partners for their generous response to this appeal.

The situation

Nearly six months after the 12 May earthquake hit Wenchuan and surrounding areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in western China, the country has turned its attention to recovery efforts and the rebuilding of entire communities. As winter sets in, hundreds of thousands are still living in transitional shelters and some families are still living in tents. While many relief items and assistance from government, NGOs and the Red Cross Society of China have been well received and helpful to the affected populations, many people state that their greatest wish is to move into their own home as quickly as possible.

The region is still plagued with seismic activity. On 30 August, another earthquake, unrelated to the 12 May earthquake, hit the southern border of Sichuan, and northern Yunnan in Panzhihua county. Then, on 5 October a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Xinjiang and on 6 October, another 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Tibet.

All the while, China has been in serious preparations for the Olympic Games, which took place in Beijing and various other cities throughout the nation during the month of August, and the Paralympic Games in September. Although the Olympics took attention away from the earthquake operations, and brought a change of atmosphere to be more celebratory throughout the country, the nation did not forget the tragedy that struck just months before. Both opening ceremonies highlighted and honoured survivors of the earthquake.

While those working on the earthquake operations did not halt their efforts for the excitement of the Olympics, some obstacles surfaced, including a general limitation on numbers of foreign relief workers in the affected areas. The central government issued guidelines on post-quake construction, and began the process of making reconstruction plans and announced specific funding support. Other provinces and municipalities were "twinned" with specific affected areas for immediate and long-term support.

Still, with 51 heavily affected counties in Sichuan alone, many are still left without twinned support. The funding gap for these areas is huge. Reconstruction planning has already commenced in some areas, under the guidance of the government monitors, and the government is hoping to get more under way in the coming months.