Pakistan

Pakistan: IOM teams expand rapid response activities to Kohistan Valley

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ISLAMABAD: IOM has established another Rapid Response Team (RRT) in the Kohistan Valley, the second largest district of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) - home to half a million mostly poor people.

Ten IOM RRTs, supported by American International Group Disaster Relief Fund (AIG DRF), are already operational in areas devastated by October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan's northern region, carrying out urgent needs assessments, giving disaster preparedness trainings and responding to emergency situations.

Those ten teams are based in Neelum Valley, Jhelum Valley, Muzaffarabad, Dhulli and Bagh areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Kaghan Valley, Siran Valley, Allai Valley, Battal Valley and Battagram areas of NWFP.

In camps for people displaced by the earthquake, fire is a major hazard and the government Camp Management Organization (CMO) is now equipping each camp with fire-fighting apparatus. It has also asked the RRTs to carry out fire safety trainings for the people living in camps.

Community awareness of the RRTs and their role is also growing. Round-the-clock public service announcements (PSAs) are being aired at FM99 Radio across the affected region announcing RRT hotline numbers and urging the people to seek help in emergency situations. People are also being encouraged to contact RRTs through newspaper ads.

A 30-minute live call-in Rapid Response Radio Programme will begin at FM99 today. The programme, which will be on air every Friday for six weeks, will feature interviews with local government officials and community leaders and will help address people's immediate concerns this winter.

"Despite severe weather conditions, the situation remains stable in the affected areas as compared to last year. But the information campaign launched through radio and the press has helped increase awareness, with more people requesting RRT disaster preparedness training," says John Sampson, head of IOM sub-office in Muzaffarabad.

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