Pakistan - Earthquake: OCHA Situation Report No. 33

Ref: OCHA/GVA/2006/0006

OCHA Situation Report No. 33
South Asia - Earthquake

The winter season continues to create miserable conditions for the affected population. It is also testing the strength and resilience of the population as well as the capacity of the humanitarian community to deliver much needed relief assistance by helicopters and by road. The weather once again dominated operational concerns across all clusters. Several key roads were cut off by landslides and air assistance was grounded in the first three days of the reporting week (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) so that much of the assistance could not be delivered. Helicopter operations resumed as soon as the weather conditions cleared late on Wednesday and a total of 25 helicopters are now flying again, delivering aid and deploying passengers to high altitude areas and lower areas. The response included the prompt distribution of food, tents and blankets. Mortality levels did not increase as a result of this situation but respiratory infections did, as temperatures dropped.

No major flooding in camps, collapse of tents and significant movements were reported as a result of the bad weather. This can be attributed mainly to the preparedness of the affected populations after the first major rains and snowstorms. The priorities of the humanitarian community remain: (i) keeping the survivors warm and dry (ii) providing winterizing tents and providing corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets; and (iii) providing heating in family or communal tents, as in school tents and hospitals.


Humanitarian agencies continue to battle with the elements and strive to provide assistance to the affected populations despite the poor weather conditions. In Muzaffarabad town, 700-1000 families were distressed as a result of very bad weather, and 750 telephone calls were received by the recently established Rapid Response Committee (RRC). Having dealt with the effects of the second wave of bad weather, teams are seriously rethinking their response strategies from reactive to proactive in order to enable deliveries before the next onset of bad weather.

Bagh saw medium to minor-sized landslides leading to the closure of many roads. UNJLC and UNDSS continue to obtain daily road updates that are being circulated among the partners working in the district. Flooding in spontaneous camps remains a challenge, as 4 tents were reportedly washed away during one of the storms that raged for 4 days, albeit, there were no casualties or injuries. Due to the bad weather, distribution of shelter and NFI kits as well as food was severely hampered, and the planned airlift operation (food) to Bhedi Union Council (UC), on the border with the LOC, was called off.

It is reasonably likely that the population in Bhedi UC who suffered from heavy snowfall and severe plummeting in temperatures will descend onto Namanpura camp, Bagh. A joint interagency assessment team will be dispatched to Bhedi when the airlift operations resume as matter of urgency. Muddy and wet conditions in both planned and spontaneous camps remain an ongoing challenge.

The Mansehra emergency shelter cluster has also established a monitoring system (see RRC in Muzaffarabad), which consists of an emergency phone line to inform key cluster participants in the event of deteriorating weather conditions. The projected/anticipated movement of people from high altitudes (estimated 60,000) due to the deteriorating weather conditions did not materialize. On the contrary, agencies and the PAKMIL have noted a 'trickle-up' effect, which may be attributed to the fact that significant shelter improvements have been made above 5,000ft. The fact that such shelters have withstood bad weather conditions to date may be an attributing factor.

Rainfall in Battagram restarted on 15 January and continued throughout most of the reporting period. There were, however, no reports of flooding in the camps this week. All major roads were closed but subsequently reopened on 19 January. Landslides on the Battagram-Besham and Tarkot-Bana roads were reported and a number of locations in the Allai valley remain cut off. No significant population movements were registered, but due to few new arrivals, Maira camp has now reached nearly 18,000 people.

In Mansehra district, the Khagan valley road NE of Balakot was declared inaccessible to cargo road transport following the bad weather that hit the region, and another bridge is out at Ghanol 15km NE of Balakot. This means that assistance can only reach this region by air.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has provided Norwegian Alpine Support teams to train approximately 1,000 UN and I/NNGO staff on how to prevent illness or fatal accidents in the mountains. Training has commenced in the Allai valley and will continue in other affected areas in due course.

The humanitarian community is continuing efforts to ensure that adequate heating is made available for the affected populations to avoid a second wave of deaths from the cold and harsh weather conditions this winter. Heating has been discussed at Islamabad level with agencies being confident that the ongoing procurement of the hardware can be distributed in time to help combat acute respiratory infection (ARI) related diseases. There is a serious concern over the potential of fires in tents.

The FRC and ERRA have created a transition team to begin the transition from relief to reconstruction. The FRC has requested an increased focus on urban-tented populations not in camps and is particularly concerned about city infrastructure, for example sewage systems. A rapid survey will be conducted within the next weeks to assess the overall situation.


Efforts continue to be under way to strengthen the cluster system with particular focus on how best to bridge the gap between the field and Islamabad, and to ensure that the relief reaches the populations in need. With the strengthening of inter-hub (Battagram-Mansehra planned meetings focusing on information sharing and joint planning) and UN-NGO liaison, the creases in coordination mechanisms look set to be ironed out.


1. The shelter cluster is confident that the key needs for tents have been served and that focus should remain on CGI sheeting and on the upgrade of existing tents (with plastic sheeting, rope and appropriate clothing / bedding) rather than on whole scale distribution. This decision has however not stopped agencies from the decision to distribute winterised tents where deemed necessary. Distribution is ongoing in Bagh, whilst the distribution of CGI sheets to the Allai valley has been significantly disrupted because of the closure of the Tharkot - Bana road.

2. In Muzaffarabad, the municipality's 5 teams of 5 (with IOM and PAKMIL) distributed 2,069 tarpaulins, replaced 97 tents and handed out as many dry blankets and fresh food stocks to families who have suffered as a result of the bad weather.

3. A joint OCHA, UNJCL and IOM rapid assessment team to Allai valley identified gaps in shelter coverage and have proposed the deployment of the High Altitude Teams (HATs) to provide monitoring of distribution and delivery of assistance.


1. To prevent campfires and, at the same time, ensure that heating is provided, major distribution of stoves and fire extinguishers has taken place. In Muzaffarabad area, UNHCR distributed 35 sets of fire fighting equipment to 12 camps (1,400 families) and a further 2,800 kerosene stoves and 2,800 kerosene jerry cans. In Thori Park, the PAKMIL installed 5 UNHCR supplied fire fighting points, plus stoves and jerry cans for the benefit of 300 families. In Chatter Klass (inside Muzaffarabad town), 85 families received 85 UNHCR stoves and 85 jerry cans. The fire fighting equipment was donated and installed by INTERLOP.

2. UNICEF donated 120 large tents to the camp management cluster for the community-heating program.

3. There are currently 59 families (331 individuals) in the first planned Namanpura camp in Bagh. There are also 27 spontaneous camps (1,843 families/ 9,600 individuals).

4. UNHCR/other partners are increasingly faced with concerns of the potential premature closures of military-run camps by 31 March 2006 as announced by the PAKMIL. On 12 January, PAKMIL announced its intention to relocate people from Banian camp and eventually close the camp. 61 of 105 families indicated that they would like to be moved to Maira camp due to the cold and harsh conditions in Banian camp. Concerns from agencies on the limited time frame and lack of forward planning were shared with the PAKMIL who indicated that this was an emergency and not a matter for further consultation and discussion.

5. Given existing conditions, it can be expected that a good number of camps (planned and spontaneous) will have to be maintained for another 6 months.


1. Preliminary results/findings from a recent survey on the water and sanitation conditions in the spontaneous camps in Bagh confirm the need for improvements, particularly in terms of water purification and control, before the water table is increased by rains and/or thawing of snow in the mountains.

2. The issue of landowners refusing to allow water development activities on their land continues to plague the water and sanitation cluster. In Mang Bajri camp in Bagh, a plan to install 2.3 kilometres of pipes was stopped by landowners.

3. In Mansehra, 4,000 people have access to 166 latrines, in a total of eleven tented villages and camps - planned and spontaneous.

4. Access to safe drinking water: 21,000 people in Bagh; 10,000 people in Dhir Kot; 220,000 in Muzaffarabad and Hattian; 36,000 people in Batagram and 15,000 in Bisham. A total of 380,000 people have access to safe drinking water in the camps (95% in Muzaffarabad and 70% in Mansehra) and rural areas, which represents 47% of the 'Winter Plan' objectives (810,000). A total of 137,500 people have access to latrines and this represents 50% of the target of 'Winter Plan' 275,000 people.


1. WFP reports that food has been distributed to 241,086 people so far, (first 14 days of January alone), out of its 995,000 - 1 million caseload assigned by the GoP. This figure (241,086) does not include the 110,000 children in tented schools receiving a supplementary ration of high-energy biscuits (HEB) and dates, and the 4,000 in tented hospitals receiving full rations.

2. 46,000 MT of GoP wheat contribution given to WFP on 6 January was found to be infested on 7 January, and consequently, a breakdown in the wheat pipeline may occur. WFP is trying to avoid this breakdown by borrowing wheat flour from Pakistani mills.

3. The Government has begun actual distribution of food in the Union Councils allocated to it (i.e. outside the 1 million assigned to WFP). Approximately 2,000 tons of wheat flavour, donated by Turkey, have been delivered.


1. The lack of female health workers continues to be a major concern as female patients are reluctant or refuse to be seen by males. The Ministry of Health is urgently looking for additional female staff. Chikoti and Chikari are amongst the most needy areas.

2. Australian Aid International (AAI) finalized the translation into Urdu of the community education materials on hypothermia. AAI constructed 189 IRAS (Improvised, Rapid, All-weather Shelter) units with the cooperation of the Pakistani Army in Haveli Tehsil and Bagh district. An additional 200 shelters are expected.

INGO activities

3. Mercy Corps is providing critical primary health care (PHC) services to earthquake-affected communities and outreach medical clinics in the Siran and Konch valleys of Mansehra district.

4. Merlin treats up to 200 patients daily in four basic health units (BHU) in Panjkot, Deolian, Serli Sachha and Chilehana in the Neelum Valley. These areas were seriously affected by the previous heavy snowfall, as 95% and 30% respectively of the communities' tents collapsed. Merlin also distributed 1,461 personal hygiene kits with accompanying health talks to women from the community.

5. MSF-Belgium has dispatched a mobile team to Namanpura camp in Bagh which will visit the camps every other day until the camp reaches its full capacity. The third phase of immunization (in camps) has been completed in 23 camps in Bagh, with 75-80% coverage.


1. To date, 1,365 tents locally procured by UNICEF have been delivered to the various locations in the affected areas. An additional 6,500 tents have been ordered from China and are expected to arrive by the end of January in order to ensure that all tents are in place by March. This ties in with the GoP's position (at least in Battagram) that no other means save for tents or the rehabilitation of damaged schools is allowed.

2. 1,277 school-in-a-box kits have arrived in Islamabad, and an additional 7,000 have been ordered from China.

3. A Transitional Structure subgroup has been formed in the Islamabad Education Cluster to explore possibilities of transitional school structures within the cluster.


1. A total of 53 child-friendly spaces and 24 women-friendly spaces/community groups have been established in the Mansehra district, 17 child-friendly spaces in Bagh and 20 child-friendly spaces and 19 women-friendly spaces/community groups have been established in Muzaffarabad.

2. A two-day training for 70 child protection workers in Maidan Camp and Banian camp in Battagram was carried out on 3-4 January. UNICEF is monitoring 44 out of 46 campsites in Muzaffarabad and working to gain access to the remaining two. In these camps, the situation of 2,424 vulnerable is being monitored.

3. A task force on human rights has been established within this cluster to deal with the main human rights issues in the earthquake response, namely, issues relating to accountability mechanisms, land and housing rights, and women and children rights.


1. 25 UNHAS helicopters are operational and flying during good weather. An additional two helicopters have arrived and will be operational as of 21 January.

2. UNJLC has requested all clusters to provide adequate information on planned programs to enable UNJLC to better plan activities as well as to obtain information for the pipeline.

3. UNHAS has commenced under-slung load operations from Bagh with 4 MI8s. The US Military has handed over all 350 sling nets to UNHAS who will now facilitate all such operations, including those of the US Chinooks.

4. The construction of a helipad in Chatterplain will allow bigger helicopters to operate and sling operations will be increased for loads up to 90MTs. With the disruptions due to the weather conditions, there is certainly a need for more sling operations in times of good weather.


1. The amount of rain has increased the risk of landslides on several roads in and around Muzaffarabad. From a safety perspective, there is concern about the airport road in particular given the amount of humanitarian workers and daily labourers that go up and down the road. It is also a serious issue from an operational perspective. This road is a vital transport link for food and materials that are transported by truck to rub-halls at the airport and then are subsequently distributed to the valleys and elsewhere by UNHAS. At several levels, concern has been expressed to PAKMIL and it has been noted that the loss of use of this road would pose a significant constraint to the humanitarian operations. Resolution of this issue is pending.


The majority of the main roads in the affected region were closed for at least the first half of the reporting week due to the bad weather. UNHAS grounded all helicopter flights for three days which prevented the delivery of up to 900MT of supplies and food.

The UN Country Team met with an Austrian geologist and landslide expert who spent two months surveying the earthquake damage. He estimates that main arterial roads will require several months beyond April to clear for 4x4 traffic only. Up to 5 years will be required to clear roads completely, to stabilize/reinforce slopes, and to repair bridges. He warned that further damage from landslides should be expected in March/April 2006 when the soil becomes waterlogged by snowmelt and rainfalls.


1. All detailed cluster information (meeting minutes, assessments, contact information etc.) is being posted on .

2. The latest information on projects and funding for the Flash Appeal, and for the emergency overall, can be found on the Financial Tracking Service ( information on earthquake appeals and funding is available on ReliefWeb (

3. Contact details of focal points for information on in-kind and cash contributions can be found at .

4. OCHA will revert with further information as it becomes available. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Tel.: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:

Ms. Merete Johansson, direct Tel. +41-22-9171694
Mr. Guido Galli, direct Tel. +41-22-9173171

Press contact:

(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 2653
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. + 1-917 367 5126


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit