Pakistan

Pakistan: Rains and Snowfall OCHA Situation Report No. 4

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/0038
OCHA Situation Report No. 4
Pakistan - Rains / Snowfall/Floods
18 February 2005

Above 700,000 people affected

This situation report is based on information received from the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Pakistan.

Situation

1. The situation from the damage caused by heavy snowfall and rains over the past two weeks is becoming clear as the weather has started improving in southern and western parts of Balochistan. Assessment Missions are now gaining access to the affected areas and getting a better feel of the situation on ground. NWFP, Northern Areas of Pakistan and upper parts of Punjab continue to receive rain and snow.

2. The death toll in NWFP has been reported to have reached 320, with 128 people killed in one day alone, 15 February. The NWFP Board of Revenue has declared Swat, Mansehra, Shangla, Battagram and Abbottabad as areas most affected, "calamity hit". The Provincial Government is in fact demanding declaration of entire NWFP as a calamity-hit province. According to reports from the official sources as well as from initial reports by different assessment missions, as many as 755,634 persons are affected in the province while more than 60,000 are still stranded due to road blocks and land slides in Swat alone. 59-70 persons have been reported dead in Swat, 31 in Mansehra, 15 in Abbottabad and seven each in Shangla and Battagram Districts.

3. According to the initial information received from the Provincial Government, almost 6,000 houses have been damaged in different parts of NWFP with more than 2,000 fully destroyed.

4. The weather in the southern parts of Balochistan province has started to clear up improving its accessibility to assessment and relief teams. Access to the affected areas in Northern Balochistan still remains difficult and there are reports of around 3,000 people trapped in snow in Pishin but according to the latest information, a Battalion of Army has managed to reach the area with relief supplies.

5. In Pasni Tehsil (Balochistan), Shadi Kaur Dam burst after more than two weeks of heavy rains. According to the local authorities, the number of deaths is 82 and the missing persons have been rescued successfully from the villages heavily affected by the dam burst and breaches. Five villages and five wards of Pasni Township and six villages with a population of more than 3,000 in Turbat have been severely affected and many houses destroyed. According to official sources, 25 persons have been killed by rains/floods in Turbat, 11 in Chaman, nine in Pishin, 7 in Awaran, and 10 in Jaffarabad and Naseerabad. 25 more persons were killed in Northern Balochistan due to floods caused by the fresh snow and rainy spell in the province. Some 40,000 acres of standing crops is considered completely destroyed. The floods have also badly damaged nearly 40 kilometers of the Mekran Coastal Highway and partially damaged more than 250 kilometers at different points rendering the highway unfit for vehicular traffic. The second rainy spell caused additional damages to road network and bridges resulting in disruptions and suspension of traffic to the affected areas.

6. Heavy rains also badly affected adjoining districts and townships including Ormara, Bela, Awaran, Kaetch, Turbat and areas around Dasht River. Damages were caused in Jhal Magsi area by increased water flows in the river from central parts to the coastal zone which impacted on the bridges and destruction/damages to mud houses and small earthen dams built on self help basis by the communities. Nearly half a million people have been badly affected by heavy rains and flood with estimates of four thousand families being made without shelter.

7. As many as 46 persons were killed as a result of avalanches in Azad Jammu and Kashmir region. Search is still continuing for the people who remain buried under the avalanches.

8. On 12 February, a huge avalanche hit at least four houses in Kohistan district as a result of which at least 42 persons were buried alive. Hazard winter conditions have paralysed daily life in most parts of Abbottabad, Mansehra, Shangla, Battagram districts and Swat region, with the local population cut off as both road network and communication system are still blocked. Electricity remains cuts off to many of the affected regions. Highway Department and Pakistan Army are reported to have deployed heavy equipment to clear road blockages caused by heavy snow but the continuing rains and snow are hampering the work. There are reports of massive losses to mud houses and people becoming without shelter. Assessment of the damages is being affected due to inaccessibility in many of the areas, which are still cut off due to heavy snow, road blockages and inoperable communication network.

9. Eight members of a family were reported killed as a result of avalanches in Astore Valley in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. The avalanches also destroyed more than 35 houses and cattle sheds in the valley.

10. In the Broghal and Yarkhoon valleys of Chitral District (Northern Areas), some 4,000 vulnerable persons are completely cut off and isolated as a result of continuous snowfall since December 2004. While in Punjab, a number of houses have collapsed and large number of persons reported injured. The Government of Punjab has initiated a needs assessment and relief distribution to the affectees in Muree, Kotli Sattiyan and sub mountainous region of Northern Punjab.

11. 26 of the 42 soldiers of the Pakistan Army who were trapped in Khyber Agency on 10 February due to heavy snowfall continue to be missing in spite of frantic search for them. Heavy losses to houses and agricultural infrastructure have been reported in Khyber and Mohmand Agencies in the tribal region.

National Response-

12. The Prime Minister visited the affected areas of NWFP on 14 February and announced a compensation package for the affectees indicating payment of Rs. 100,000 to the family of each deceased person and Rs. 50,000 to each injured. He also assured that the Government would be undertaking steps to alleviate the suffering of the affected populations.

13. The Chief Minister of the NWFP also announced a relief package of Rs. 58 million for the affectees of the province and has approached the Federal Government for an emergency grant of Rs. 100 million. The Provincial Government has so far paid a sum of more than Rs. 30 million as compensation to the victims.

14. The President of Pakistan visited Balochistan and toured the affected areas in Pasni and Gawadar. He announced a special package for the affected areas and assured that each bereaved family would get a cash compensation of Rs. 100,000. The package also includes compensation to the injured with serious and minor injuries as well as interest free long term loans to the victims by the financial institutions for rehabilitation of their livelihoods.

15. Over 4,000 personnel from the Pakistan Army, Navy, Coast Guards and FC are continuing search and rescue and relief operation in Pasni and other affected regions of Balochistan. The Government Authorities in Balochistan have established an emergency cell in the Chief Minister Secretariat to closely monitor the situation. Due to the disruption of communications in the affected areas limited information has been received and efforts are being made to obtain full information of the losses.

16. Emergency Relief Cell of the Federal Government initially rushed two planeloads of relief supplies to Pasni and Gawadar. The items include 300 tents, 4,000 blankets, 200 anti-snake venom vials and water purification tablets. These have been followed by almost ten planeloads of relief items by different sources. Details of the in-kind and cash contributions so far by different national sources have been captured and outlined in the table at Annex-A.

17. The Emergency Relief Cell has also dispatched 50 tents, 1,000 blankets and 50 sets of utensils to the affected areas of NWFP. Food items worth Rs. 773,000 have also been handed over to the Provincial Government.

International Response

18. The Government of Pakistan has not requested international assistance at this stage. However, the Federal Government has shown inclination to welcome help from bilateral and multilateral partners including UN. The UN Rapid Assessment Mission to Balochistan led by UNICEF and comprising of experts from WFP, WHO and UNDP has visited Lasbela and assessed the relief and rehabilitation needs of the area. The Team has now moved to Gawadar and is studying the adjoining affected areas and districts. The third meeting of the UN Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) was held on 16 February to review the situation. It was agreed that the findings of the UN and international NGOs Missions to Balochistan would be consolidated as a single Joint Needs Assessment. It was further agreed between the UN Agencies and international NGOs to conduct the Needs Assessments in NWFP and AJK in coordination to achieve synergies. A WHO led UN Assessment Mission is actively engaged in assessment work in NWFP, FATA and the Northern Areas. A UNFPA led UN Assessment Mission has been in touch with the authorities in AJK and is awaiting access to the inaccessible areas in Neelum Valley. The NGOs with presence in different regions are part of the UN Assessment Missions in NWFP, FATA, Northern Areas and AJK.

19. A Joint international NGOs Assessment Mission comprising of members from Islamic Relief-UK, OXFAM, Concern and MSF Holland has submitted its initial flood assessment report for Gawadar including Dasht and Pasni. The Mission has expressed the need for provision of food assistance to 2,825 families for a period of one month in Dasht and Pasni region. Provision of water purification tablets/powder, tents and blankets has also been strongly recommended. In view of the potential risk of malaria in the southern and western parts of Balochistan, WHO has highlighted the need for impregnated bed nets, which are not available there.

20. FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, an INGO working in the northern areas has been instrumental in attracting support from the Federal Government and requested additional support for airlifting of relief supplies already stocked in Chitral. However, according to Government sources, food supplies already distributed in the area should suffice for a period of 4-6 weeks and some arrangement would need to be made to resume operation as the affected areas would still be out of reach by land routes until April, 2005.

21. The International Islamic Relief Organization of Saudi Arabia has dispatched emergency relief goods comprising of 1,000 tents, 4,000 blankets and many items of foodstuff for distribution to the victims of Balochistan Province.

22. UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Onder Yucer visited Balochistan and met with the Governor and the Chief Minister of the Province and has returned to Islamabad after having thorough and detailed understanding of the situation in the affected areas of the province.

23. The consignment rushed by UNICEF Pakistan to Lasbela has been distributed to the victims in the adjoining areas and supplies sent by boats to Gawadar have also been delivered to the District Administration for distribution to the victims in that region. For provision of relief to the affectees of Swat in NWFP, UNICEF is rushing another consignment of 5,000 woollen blankets, which is in addition to the already supplied 1,000 blankets, 200 sweaters, 100 bars of hand soap, 100 packets of soap for clothes, 1 basic health kit (for 10,000 population for three months) and 100 tarpaulin sheets (2 x 2m). UNICEF has also rushed 50 tents each to Pasni and Ketch and 195 tents each for the victims in Mansehra and Abbottabad Districts.

24. UNHCR has agreed to contribute US$ 20,000 in the form of tents and other shelter items which will be delivered to the affected populations in Pasni and Gawadar

25. WHO will contribute US$ 25,000 worth of emergency medical supplies for the affected population. WHO has also committed to send 6 basic health kits worth US$ 66,000.

26. UNESCO is contributing a sum of US$ 25,000 in support to the education facilities damaged by the floods in Balochistan.

27. UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has granted through UNDP at the disposal of PRCS an amount of US$ 30,000 for provision of tents and blankets to the victims in Balochistan. This sum was handed over to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society in a ceremony held on 17 February 2005. OCHA has also allocated an additional sum of US$ 20,000 to UNDP for shelter needs in other affected areas. Arrangements are being made to rush supplies with this money to the worst affected regions of NWFP.

28. The Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery of UNDP has allocated a sum of US$ 100,000 for provision of coordination, logistic support, monitoring and assessment of the relief and rehabilitation needs.

29. The international community is being kept in picture and would be thoroughly briefed on receipt of UN Assessment Reports from the field. The Office of the UN Resident Coordinator is monitoring the situation and is in close contact with the authorities concerned at the Federal, Provincial and District levels and would continue to review the situation on regular basis. The next meeting of the UNDMT would be taking place on Wednesday, 23 February 2005.

30. OCHA is in close contact with the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan and will revert with further information as required.

31. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officer:
Mr. Dusan Zupka
Direct Tel. +41-22-917-1645

Press contact:
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. + 41-22-917 2653
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-917-8921679

Disclaimer

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.