Pakistan: IOM supports winterisation of camps in quake areas

ISLAMABAD: Efforts by International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support winterization plans of the Camp Support Team and the government are ensuring solid structures, a better living condition and protection of displaced people in earthquake-affected areas this winter.

In less than four weeks, ten IOM construction teams, each comprising 3 carpenters and 4 labourers, have built nearly 250 tent shelters made of wood and bamboos and roofed with corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets in Chattar Kalas and Agro Tech Industrial Area camps in Muzaffarabad district.

By the end of last month, IOM joined the endeavours of the Camp Support team, consisting of government's camp management organizations, UNHCR and Norwegian Refugee Council, following a request from Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) to speed up the winterization process.

With the financial assistance from American International Group Disaster Relief Fund (AIG DRF), IOM formed 10 construction teams which effectively and efficiently contributed to efforts to accelerate winterization process for the people still living in camps this winter. The tent shelters, having structural and material support from the Camp Support Team, are providing protection to the people against harsh weather conditions like heavy rains, snowfall and strong chilly winds.

"Previously it was really dangerous to light a fire in the tent, but now in this tent shelter I can do this to keep my family warm and dry during the cold weather," said Ghulam Muhammad living in Agro Tech Industrial Area camp with his wife and two sons for over a year. According to Muhammad, he is unable to go back home in Makri Bela village, 3 kilometres from the camp, because a landslide following the earthquake swept away his house and land.

At least 6,500 families are still living in camps across the 38,000sq km region devastated by October 2005 earthquake, killing nearly 75,000 people and affecting 3.4 million others.

"This is a major step in relief agencies and government's efforts to winterize camps and to ensure that people living there don't have to go through again the conditions which they faced last year," said John Sampson, Project Manager for AIG DRF-funded Rapid Response Teams and Construction Teams.

Since its launch in mid November, IOM and other NGOs have been supporting the winterization process initiated by the Camp Support Team by providing technical and construction support.

IOM construction teams have also been requested by respective governments to provide construction assistance in other camps in Muzaffarabad district of Pakistan-administered Kashmir; and Mansehra and Batagram districts of NWFP.

"I am confident we will be able to help complete camp winterization process by the middle of next month as progress is moving at a fast pace," said Mr Sampson. "This effort could not have occurred without the support and assistance of our donor, respective governments and the Camp Support Team."

For more information, please contact Saleem Rehmat at IOM Islamabad, Email: Tel. +92.300.8565967