Pakistan

Pakistan: Survivors in need of proper shelter

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By Saleem Shahid

WAM/ZIARAT, Nov 2: People rendered homeless by last week's earthquake are in desperate need for proper shelter to survive harsh the winter, rains and snowfall.

Thousands of people in Wam and Ziarat complained that tents provided to them did not protect them from the freezing cold weather, and their children had fallen prey to various diseases, including pneumonia and chest infections.

They said that the weather would worsen in a few days.

Several tent villages set up near the villages flattened by the quake are creating various sociological problems.

"These tents are inadequate even during the day; they are blown over by strong winds," Abdul Waheed, who lost 16 members of his family, told Dawn in Wam Kotal.

He was, however, satisfied with other aspects of relief, especially food, but said that their tents were very small. "They are inadequate for sheltering a family of 10 or 12 members".

"We need proper shelters before the advent of severe weather, otherwise our children may die," he said.

Most of the affected people said that the government should give them cash after quickly assessing the extent of damage so that they could start rebuilding their homes.

"The government will take a long time to start reconstruction work," Mr Waheed said, adding that if they themselves were allowed to build their homes, they would need less money than the government would spend on rebuilding their houses.

Balochistan minister Robina Irfan and MPA Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, who visited the affected areas in Kach and Kawas union councils, supported the villagers' demands. They were accompanied by Quetta Nazim Mir Maqbool Lehri.

"It is a good suggestion. It will help the government rehabilitate survivors quickly," MPA Jaffar Khan said.

Criticising the absence of women doctors in the medical camps, Mrs Rabina said that she would take up in the cabinet and the provincial assembly the proposal to pay cash to the affected people.

Seventy-year-old Rehmatullah Kakar, who lost four children, also complained about the poor quality of tents. He said: "For the safety of our children, we urgently need proper tents. Please save our children, don't let them die."

Sixteen-year-old Samina Bibi also demanded proper shelter. "I want a house ... as soon as possible," she said, adding that it should have all necessary amenities, including electricity and gas.

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