Pakistan

Pakistan: Winterization in quake camps nears completion

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Islamabad, January 12th - Some 34,000 people affected by the earthquake in northern Pakistan are benefiting from a winterization campaign praised by the government as a success that has so far helped to avert a wave of cold-related deaths in the remaining 48 relief camps. Within a month, over 3,000 existing tents were weather-proofed with shelters made of timber and bamboo frames, plastic and CGI sheets - shelters specifically designed to respond to the need for a quick, economically feasible and appropriate solution. Over 1,500 winterized tents were also erected.

Anticipating the harsh weather and a possible influx of people from the higher altitudes, the Camp Support Team comprising of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), local NGO Best and the Pakistan Army in the quake zone under overall guidance of ERRA, has been coordinating winterization efforts in the residual camps with various partners since last December.

Appreciating the efforts of the Camp Support Team, Jan Vandemoortele, the UN Resident Coordinator said, "This is a great example of inter-agency cooperation, with the camp support team and the Pakistan Army each doing their bit to complete the exercise. And we have IFRC to thank as well, for providing additional winterized tents for these camps."

Winter has brought sub-zero temperatures, rain, and snow in the mountains of the earthquake-affected areas. While most of the affectees returned to their home villages in the spring of 2006, an estimated 34,000 people are still living in 48 relief camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and North West Frontier Province, unable to return immediately for a variety of reasons.

While visiting the camps recently, Lieutenant-General Nadeem Ahmed, the Deputy Chairman of Pakistan's Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) said, "I am very satisfied with the progress of winterization. The true measure of its success is that the people are safe from the unusually harsh weather this winter."

The ongoing winterization effort in camps is near completion. With the onset of spring, camp dwellers will be able to dismantle the tent shelters and use the materials to rebuild their homes in their areas of origin.

For further information and media assistance, please contact,

Raabya Amjad, Public Information Officer, Pakistan
UN - Resident Coordinator's Office, Sector E-7, Street 11, House 124, Islamabad;
Tel: +92(0) 51 2652840; Fax: + 92(0) 51 2652536; Mobile: +92 (0)301 8542442
Email: raabya.amjad@un.org.pk