GENEVA /NEW YORK, 31 October 2008 - UNICEF is providing immediate life-saving assistance to children and women affected by the earthquake that struck the southwestern province of Balochistan, Pakistan, on 29 October, killing approximately 200 and affecting some 108,000 people, 50 per cent of which are children. Almost 19,000 of the affected are under-five years old. The numbers are likely to increase with aftershocks and as relief teams gain access to more remote areas. On 30 October the Chief Minister of Balochistan appealed for international assistance to be provided to the earthquake victims.
Yesterday UNICEF carried out a joint assessment with the Government of Pakistan and UN officials in the worst hit areas in Pishin District, where over 38,000 people have been affected - including almost 7,000 children under-five years old. In Ziarat District, 70,000 people have been affected, some 2,000 houses damaged and some 128 schools were partially damaged in the earthquake, many roads are impassable, health care centres have been destroyed, and food and water supplies are at risk. Traditionally, the mud or mud-brick houses in the area have low resistance against earthquakes.
With winter closing in, the most urgent needs of the survivors are shelter, safe drinking water, food, warm clothing and emergency medical assistance.
A priority for UNICEF is to ensure the availability of clean water. Children are especially vulnerable to diseases, such as diarrhea and cholera. Most of the water sources in the affected districts have been damaged by the earthquake: approximately 12,000 people in Ziarat lack safe water and are dependent on supplies from water trucks.
UNICEF, through its field office in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan Province, has in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan, started providing water and sanitation services in Ziarat, including water supplies of 40,000 liters, the deployment of four water tankers, and initiating the restoration of a water scheme to supply safe water to 8,400 people, including over 3,800 children. UNICEF also provided 50 Metric Tons of UNIMIX to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) as supplementary food for young children and pregnant and lactating women. Warm clothing for an initial group of 100 children in camps in Ziarat will also be distributed today in Ziarat.
UNICEF is also mobilizing additional emergency supplies - tarpaulin, water bladders, jerry cans, and aqua tabs - that were pre-positioned in warehouses in Karachi and Peshawar. Supplies will be trucked from Karachi to Quetta on Saturday.
In order to scale up its emergency operations in the affected districts of Balochistan province and to support the Government's efforts, UNICEF urgently seeks $5 million from donors to expand its life-saving and rehabilitation activities in water and sanitation, nutrition, education and child protection.
Balochistan, located near the Afghan border, is the largest province in Pakistan but one of its least populated, and is prone to natural disasters. In October 2005, a quake in northern Pakistan killed 70,000 people and left more than three million homeless.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
Antonia Paradela, UNICEF Pakistan: Mob. +92 3005002595, email@example.com
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York, +1 212 3267426, firstname.lastname@example.org
Miriam Azar, UNICEF New York, +1 212 824 6949, email@example.com
Veronique Taveau, UNICEF Geneva, +41 22 909 5716, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Crowe, UNICEF Delhi media hub, + 91 9910532314, email@example.com