IRC Rushes Urgently Needed Shelter, Health Care to Isolated Earthquake Survivors
International Rescue Committee relief efforts are underway in the earthquake-ravaged districts of Abbottabad, Manshera, Shangla and Batagram in northern Pakistan.
IRC emergency relief teams based in Pakistan were able to respond within 24 hours of the October 8 quake and have been providing shelter, food, water, medical assistance and psychosocial counseling to thousands of survivors. They briefed a New York-based team of IRC emergency response, health, and water and sanitation specialists that arrived yesterday in Abbottabad on the current situation, relief efforts, and coordination with local officials and organizations to direct aid where it is most urgently needed.
The team is en route to the Balakot area where IRC staff members have reported inadequate water and sanitation facilities and at least 80 cases of diarrhea.
Severe thundershowers today hampered efforts to distribute relief supplies; however, medical and psychosocial counseling teams continue to treat injured and traumatized survivors, including patients in the area of Gharihabibullah who are suffering from eye infections, cold, fever, and diarrhea.
IRC staff members responding in the remote Shangla district say that the rain and falling temperatures are making survival increasingly difficult. The IRC's team leader in Shangla, Abur Rehman, says that 85 of the district's 111 villages have been destroyed. There is very little shelter, Rehman says. Survivors have been forced to sit in fields and use plastic sheets to protect themselves from the harsh weather.
The devastation in Shangla is widespread, affecting villages in the valleys as well as in mountainous areas but the scattered communities higher up the slopes have proven more difficult to reach. The local government is relying on land records and help from local schoolteachers to conduct a house to house survey of the damage.
A new shipment of tents has been ordered to shelter families made homeless by the quake. IRC staff members express hope it will arrive before the cold front that is expected to grip the region early next week.