Pakistan

Pakistan: Emergency aid reaches remote areas hit by south Asia quake

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Field reports from the south Asia earthquake zone this weekend show that agencies backed by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) are now delivering vital aid to some of the most vulnerable survivors in remote villages in the region.

Hundreds of winterised tents, for example, are being dropped by helicopter into mountain villages in Pakistan to people left exposed to deteriorating weather conditions. The airlift, into the Alai mountains villages just north of the earthquake's epicentre near Batgran, commenced on Thursday - using money raised in the UK.

Martin Pervaiz, local director of Church World Service, which is organising the airlift, said: "The priority is to provide shelter for survivors who are being pelted with hailstorms as the temperature drops. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to cold and we have to move fast to reach this remote region."

CWS, which is supported by DEC funds, is hoping to deliver 10-15,000 shelter kits over the next week.

Mr Pervaiz added: "It's a horror story that doesn't end. These villages are in mountainous regions where there are no roads.

"There is a tremendous need right now. People have lost their homes and need shelter. People are very scared and they can't afford to lose any more loved ones."

Care International, a DEC member agency, has transported 8,000 blankets and 4,000 water containers to affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir in India.

AlyKhan Rajani, from Care International, added: "Because of the topography, buildings are built leaning against each other. So when one falls, it causes a domino effect."

Treating those who have been injured, many seriously, is badly hampered by impassable roads and poor weather conditions. The United Nations reports that more than 1,000 hospitals have been destroyed and many key staff have been killed or injured.

But a team from DEC member agency Merlin was able to reach a village near the border with India-administered Kashmir, using a helicopter.

Dr Sean Keogh, who is leading the team, said: "There are multiple compound fractures and only one local doctor here, with no analgesia at all, no antibiotics and no bandages. Some of those who were seriously wounded have been flown to Muzaffarabad, but there are many others here in urgent need of medical care."

The roads to this valley from Muzaffarabad were completely inaccessible due to the earthquake damage and landslides. Some of the roads have now been cleared by local people. Merlin is also sending splint materials for 20,000 people and a further 20,000 blankets.

Help the Aged partner organisations have mobilised Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) in Jammu and Kashmir mostly providing the only available medical facility for injured villagers and those needing health care for chronic health problems. In Jammu, the unit treatd nearly 300 people with urgent medical needs.

It is estimated that two million people have been made homeless by the disaster and UN assessments indicate that 116,000 need emergency food, water and shelter.

Oxfam India has been able to provide shelter, blankets, hygiene kits and waterproof sheets to thousands of people in Baramulla and Kupwara in India.

So far, the British public has pledged more than £12 million to the DEC Asia Quake Appeal, which was launched on Tuesday. Money raised is already being spent by member agencies on the ground. Much more is needed.

Notes to editors:

For further information, or to arrange interviews with those quoted above, please contact DEC duty press officers John Davison on 07967 526885 or Sarah Wilson on 07790 133392

Marvin Pervaiz is organising CWS's response from Islamabad.

AlyKhan Rajani, the Asia programme officer for Care International is also in Islamabad.

Aditi Kapoor, from Oxfam UK is near Uri in Indian administered Kashmir.

The 13 DEC member agencies are: Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision