OCHA Situation Report No. 41
South Asia - Earthquake
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; however, information dissemination remains inconsistent across the hubs.
Other issues of concern include: limited transportation capacity, the accommodation of residual caseloads and the lack of monitoring capacity in places of origin.
Furthermore, visiting donors have been informed that UN/NGO Common Services experience serious shortfalls in funding. This includes UNHAS air operations, UNJLC/UNOPS route assessments and road clearances, IOM transportation support for IDP returns, and UNICEF protection activities.
Finally, a joint press briefing by the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and the United Nations will be held on 8 April to mark the six months after the earthquake that hit South Asia on 8 October 2005.
The priorities of humanitarian operations are: (i) informed, dignified and voluntary IDP returns; (ii) camp closure; (iii) the provision of essential services in places of origin; and (iv) transition planning to build the recovery foundation.
Earthquake in Battagram, 4 April 2006, 14:10 local time
On 4 April 2006, at 14:10 local time (10:10 GMT), an earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale struck the Battagram-Thakot and Allai valleys (Battagram District/ North West Frontier Province) with the epicenter reported some 160 kms north of Battagram Town. A large aftershock was reported to have occurred at 14:20 local time (10:20 GMT).
Since the October 2005 earthquake, strong tremors have been experienced in the area almost on a daily basis, often up to a level 5 on the Richter scale. However, this earthquake was felt as the strongest to date resulting in injuries and significant structural damage to buildings.
To date, 26 injured persons have been officially registered in Battagram hospital. All originate from Battagram town and the nearby mountainous areas of Shumalai and Batamori. Most of the injuries sustained are fractures. A total of four serious cases have been referred to Abbottabad for neuro-surgery.
One building, part of the police complex, collapsed in Battagram Town. The building had been vacant following damage during the October earthquake. Many other buildings have sustained significant structural damage, including the UN office at the Battagram View Hotel. UN agencies have vacated the building and set up alternative office arrangements in tents.
Overall, the situation remained calm in Battagram and there was no panic amongst the local population. However, people appeared visibly shaken and some shops were closed.
Logistics/ exhaustion of funds for UNHAS operation
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 interrupted 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.
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.
The overall security situation remains stable and calm in the earthquake-affected areas and humanitarian activities continue as normal.
IDP Returns Process
The Government has declared an area of 600 hectares of Balakot Town as a red zone on the basis of the recommendation from a recently completed seismic study. The Government is planning to relocate the affected population of Balakot and reconstruct the town at another location.
In Bagh, the Camp Management Organisation (CMO) has announced its three-phased return and camp closure process, comprising spontaneous and assisted returns and camp closure. The public information campaign is ongoing and UNOPS is assessing remote areas of return in Bagh district. In addition, workshops are being organized to address technical components of camp closure.
In Battagram, out of the estimated initial number of 20,000 IDPs in five planned camps, a residual caseload of some 300 families remain in Meira, out of which at least 100 families will be transported by IOM. Overall, IOM is expecting to complete assisted returns in early April.
In Mansehra, assisted IDP returns are well underway and taking place at a fast pace. A total of 33,271 IDPs (6,026 families) had returned as of 5 April 2006. About 90% of these IDPs returned to their places of origin and 10% moved to other places, as yet unidentified. Government authorities announced that Meira Camp, Kashtra Camp and Siran Sialkot Camp will function as forward camps for the temporary accommodation of vulnerable populations and those unable to return.
In Muzaffarabad, as of 5 April, an estimated 3,560 persons (528 families) had returned with the help of IOM transportation assistance. An additional 1,373 families had returned with the support of the Camp Management Organization. Another 1,000 families are now ready to return but await transportation assistance.
Transition Planning and Recovery
On several occasions, Cluster Leads met with representatives of the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) to discuss technical details of the Pakistan Action Plan from Relief to Recovery.
A Relief Transition Cell has been established within ERRA to oversee relief activities related to shelter, logistics, health, protection, and IDP returns. Transition planning intends to focus on capacity building, contingency planning and disaster management.
The Cluster system is currently being reviewed to reflect local ownership and to adjust to recovery needs.
Donor Visit to Pakistan
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. Its 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.
The Donor Group held meetings with Government representatives, UN agencies and NGOs and visited the field hubs of Bagh and Muzaffarabad. Mission members agreed that the Cluster Approach was the way forward in relief coordination. However, they also understand the dilemmas associated with the implementation of a new coordination mechanism, i.e. distinguishing between Cluster and Agency responsibilities and ensuring the flow of information between clusters in Islamabad and the field hubs.
WATER AND SANITATION
1. To increase hygiene promotion and sanitation among the earthquake-affected populations, a series of workshops for trainers and hygiene promoters were organized by Australian Aid International and UNICEF in Haveli Tehsil and Balakot.
2. In Bagh, the Shelter Cluster is continuing to cover the outstanding emergency shelter needs. A UNOPS verification assessment of emergency shelter needs in Azad Bara has confirmed that there is a gap in shelter distribution. The host community as well as returning IDPs will be provided with CGI sheets, shelter kits and blankets.
FOOD AND NUTRITION
3. As of 1 April, WFP is working on its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations program, which includes food for education or training, extended relief and food for recovery. The program intends to help sustain disaster-hit communities as they re-establish livelihoods and stabilize themselves.
4. International field hospitals are gradually being handed over to the Ministry of Health. The level of health care delivery after the earthquake has increased significantly, due to the presence of these temporary health facilities.
5. With many reconstruction works nearing completion and temporary health facilities ready to be operational, adequate staffing now becomes a key issue. The number of qualified health staff required is larger than was available even before the earthquake due to the increased level of health care services and the need for further contingency measures.
6. As IDPs are returning to their home villages and communities, the need arises for water quality surveillance and monitoring in these areas. In Battagram, WHO is seeking the support of the Government authorities in the compilation of a water quality database.
7. WHO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, has screened more than 700 children and vaccinated 200 who were on their way from Balakot to Kaghan valley and to Muzaffarabad. Furthermore, WHO Battagram has carried out seven health facility assessments in Shangla District.
8. A total of 213 health facilities are now participating in the Disease Early Warning System. On average, 99% of these sent their epidemiological findings to WHO in the past two weeks, totalling almost 86,775 consultations, for a population of almost 4 million people in the earthquake-affected areas. The main course for consultations remain Acute Respiratory Infection and Acute Watery Diarrhoea.
9. The 'Welcome-to-School' campaign is in full swing in the earthquake-affected areas. In Bagh, almost all schools have received tents and 'School-in-a-Box' kits and an ongoing teacher-training programme on psychosocial support was completed in 7 Union Councils. In Muzaffarabad, educational supplies are being sent to children's places of origin. In Mansehra, over 800 tents for schools have been delivered by UNICEF to partner organizations. Moreover, Parent Teacher Associations have been reactivated and a campaign been designed by UNICEF and partners to mobilize communities to send their children to school. Also, in Mansehra, 901 regular governmental primary schools are being provided school supplies and tents by member organizations of the Education Cluster.
10. In Battagram, schools in Maidan and Banian camps have been closed and materials been handed over to the Provincial Education Department. In Muzaffarabad, all departing students of camp schools were registered by filling out Individual Profile forms.
11. IOM, the Pakistan Army and Provincial authorities continue to provide transport for returning IDPs. UNHCR cooperates with IOM by providing lists, which are gathered from camp managers, of families intending to leave and needing transport.
12. In Bagh, UNICEF has identified 20 protection monitors who will be seconded to the Social Welfare Department to build up its monitoring and reporting capacity for IDP returns.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND DATA COMMUNICATIONS
13. Radio training for 84 users and operators was conducted in Mansehra, Muzaffarabad and Bagh. Following the earthquake in Battagram on 4 April, the radio room was relocated, regular user support has continued, additional radios were being programmed, and IT equipment was dispatched from Islamabad.
14. The Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) is in the process of upgrading its website to include a search engine and a content management system, which will allow for greater interaction by users. The HIC website will follow the transition from relief to recovery process through uploading of relevant documents and of maps produced in conjunction with Clusters and humanitarian agencies.
WEATHER AND ACCESSIBILITY
15. As IDPs return to places of origin, access remains a key issue. Government and humanitarian organizations currently facilitate the return and recovery of quake-affected households by enabling essential tools, equipment, and agricultural inputs to be transported to communities in remote, high elevation areas. These communities are accessible only by secondary and tertiary roads and tracks, which have been blocked by landslides. The severity and frequency of these landslides will even further increase as a result of seasonal rains and water logging.
16. All detailed cluster information (meeting minutes, assessments, contact information etc.) is being posted on www.un.org.pk .
17. The latest information on projects and funding for the Flash Appeal, and for the emergency overall, can be found on the Financial Tracking Service (http://ocha.unog.ch/fts/reports/reportlist.asp?section=CE&record_ID=688). Further information on earthquake appeals and funding is available on ReliefWeb (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/dbc.nsf/doc105?OpenForm&rc=3&emid=EQ-2005-000174-PAK).
18. Contact details of focal points for information on in-kind and cash contributions can be found at http://www.un.org.pk/earthquake05/ .
19. 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 http://www.reliefweb.int.
20. Regular news on Pakistan is available from IRIN via the website www.IRINnews.org and direct e-mail subscription. Agencies wishing to contribute news article suggestions, press releases and reports with IRIN should send them to the IRIN Asia office: IRINasia@IRINnews.org, Tel +90-312 454 1177.
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