South Asia Earthquake Relief: October Situation Report
On Saturday morning, October 8th, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan, approximately 60 miles northeast of Islamabad. The most severely affected areas are the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, northern Punjab, Pakistani Kashmir in Pakistan, and Indian Kashmir in India. Afghanistan also sustained damage and loss of life.
Reports indicate that over 30,000 were killed, many of whom were children. This death toll is expected to rise as roads are cleared and demolished villages become accessible. Up to five million people may have been displaced in all. Strong and frequent aftershocks have caused quake survivors to leave buildings and sleep outdoors, despite the cold.
While aid groups and the international community have responded to calls for assistance, much of the impacted region is still virtually inaccessible due to damaged infrastructure. Bad weather has further impeded relief, and help is slow to reach the most severely affected areas. According to the United Nations, current needs at this stage are for:
- Shelter materials such as winterized tents, plastic sheeting, heavy blankets and quilts, mattresses, and heating equipment for an estimated 4 million people;
- Food items such as pre-cooked and canned food, high energy biscuits, survival rations;
- Field hospitals, antibiotics, Typhoid medications, bone fracture kits, first aid kits, surgical instruments, and water purification kits and tablets;
- Cargo helicopters and heavy machines to remove debris; and
- Financial assistance
JDC is collecting funds to assist the earthquake victims on a non-sectarian basis. We are now coordinating with leaders from the Indian Jewish Community and with other disaster relief partners in the region to determine an appropriate emergency response, one that ensures that we reach those who are not being served by others.
The American Government and NGO Community Responds
At the request of the Pakistani Government, the U.S. is providing an initial contribution of up to $50 million for relief and reconstruction, including emergency shelter, food, water, medical supplies and transportation assistance. The Department of Defense is sending eight helicopters to the area filled with emergency relief supplies to more remote communities that are not accessible by road.
In addition, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed $1 million, to be provided through the American Red Cross, in response to a preliminary emergency appeal from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. These funds are in addition to the $100,000 announced immediately after the quake by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Examples of activities underway by four American organizations with which JDC has partnered in past disaster programs follow:
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) : CRS has committed $500,000 for immediate relief efforts in Pakistan and India, and plans to raise up to $5 million for longer-term recovery efforts. CRS is currently procuring emergency relief items such as tarps, blankets, plastic sheeting and water cans to an initial 2,000 families (10,000 people) near the quake's epicenter, in the areas of Muzaffarabad, Menshera and Shingala.
International Medical Corps (IMC): IMC is working in close cooperation with the Government of Pakistan's Ministry of Health, and has mobilized three Rapid Response Teams to provide immediate medical care and assess the immediate-, medium- and long-term needs of devastated regions in the Northwest Frontier Province. The IMC teams are bringing drugs and medical supplies to districts in the foothills west of Kashmir and they are airlifting an initial 5 tons of medical supplies from the US to Peshawar and Islamabad.
International Rescue Committee (IRC): IRC has worked in Pakistan for 25 years aiding Afghan refugees and host communities. IRC is now dispatching three emergency teams to provide assistance to earthquake survivors in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. Emergency response teams will work through a network devised this past spring, when they aided victims of floods and avalanches. Food, water, shelter materials and medicines will be distributed, and psychosocial support will also be provided.
Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps has worked in Pakistan since the mid-1980s. A team of nine Mercy Corps staff, including doctors and surgeons, is delivering essential medical supplies and treating victims in remote areas in the Northwest Frontier Province, Mercy Corps will also airlift food and shelter supplies into areas that are inaccessible by road or foot. As its disaster relief efforts grow, Mercy Corps' long-running humanitarian programs will continue to operate in Baluchistan and Sindh Province.
The Israeli Response According to Israeli media, Israel has offered Pakistan and India assistance in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, but both countries have yet to respond to the offer. Although Pakistan does not officially recognize Israel, at the beginning of September 2005, high level meetings between the countries' representatives took place in Turkey, signaling a warming of relations. Despite demonstrations against the meetings in both Pakistan and the Gaza Strip, Pakistan has expressed interest in establishing relations following Israel's pull-out from Gaza.
The International Response
UNHCR is providing urgently needed tents, blankets, stoves and other basic relief items for tens of thousands of Afghan refugees and Pakistanis. Additional UN agencies, such as UNICEF, the World Food Program, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the UN Population Fund have also been activated and are providing relief supplies and sectoral experts.
The European Commission pledged more than $4 million in emergency aid, and stated that this figure could grow as individual member nations add their own donations.
Despite the dispute over Kashmir that has existed between India and Pakistan for several decades, India pledged 25 tons of relief supplies to its neighbor. Reports indicate that Pakistan has accepted this offer.
Many other countries have sent and pledged funds as well as experts and supplies that include search teams with dogs, medical workers, rescue equipment, food and water.
Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief Members Respond The following Jewish Coalition members are collecting funds for relief activities: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Jewish World Service, B'nai B'rith and World Jewish Aid. Additional members will be added to future reports as this information becomes available.
DONATE NOW Checks can be made out to
JDC: South Asia Earthquake Relief
P.O. Box 321
847A Second Avenue
New York, New York 10017.
You can donate online by credit card or by phone 212-687-6200.