Pakistan: ICRC delivers shelter kits to earthquake victims as temperatures plummet

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ICRC assistance teams, working together with the Pakistan Red Crescent, have delivered nearly 1,200 winterized tents to victims of the 29 October earthquake in Balochistan. They are now in a race against time to deliver more durable shelter kits before winter arrives up in the mountains.

The kits are based on ones the ICRC distributed during the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir that killed tens of thousands of people and injured thousands more.

Each shelter kit contains the equivalent of 30 square metres of corrugated and galvanized iron sheeting as well as nails, washers, nylon rope, a hammer and a saw.

"We are going to each house in the villages where the earthquake struck to assess the damage," explains Patrick Kilchenmann, head of assistance for the ICRC's Rapid Deployment team in Quetta. "Families whose houses have been badly destroyed will receive a shelter kit. But even if a house only has minor cracks it is still important to protect it, as the crevices will get worse when it snows, so we are providing tarpaulins as well."

On the 10 November, the assistance teams delivered the first ten shelter kits to families in three villages around Yusuf Kach in Pishin district. They delivered over150 tents and 325 tarpaulins at the same time.

Makeshift homes for the many

"There are 18 people in my family," remarked elderly Abdul Hameed, who was busy repairing the mud walls of his damaged home when two ICRC staff visited Yusuf Kach two days later. "When the walls are ready we will fix the iron sheets on top, then add layers of twigs and soil to make a thick covering and put a tarpaulin over the top. The children will sleep here, and the women too."

"If people had to buy these items in the bazaar," commented the head of the village pointing to the rolls of galvanized iron, they would be very expensive."

Some of the villagers were hesitant about the kits they had received. "These iron sheets are new to us," they remarked. But they welcomed the offer of a training session and demonstration about how to use the material to weatherproof their homes.

Another ten kits will be delivered this week in Spezendai village, Ziarat district, one of the worst affected areas, together with tarpaulins, blankets, and hygiene supplies. Shelter kits for at least another 1,000 families are on order.