Pakistan Marks First Anniversary of Earthquake; 230,000 People Received IRC Assistance
One year ago this weekend, the IRC responded within hours to provide urgent aid to the victims of the worst earthquake in Pakistan’s history. The emergency teams were met with scenes of utter devastation: hungry survivors living in ruins of collapsed building or in flimsy tents.
It is estimated that the devastating quake killed at least 80,000 people and left three million people homeless. Emergency teams immediately provided shelter, food, water, medical assistance and psychosocial counseling to thousands of survivors.
Throughout the year, the IRC continued to be at the forefront of the efforts to rebuild the lives of the quake victims, providing emergency assistance to some 230,000 people. In recognition of this, the IRC last month received an award from President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan.
“In the year that has past, we have treated over 66,000 patients at IRC-supported health facilities; restored and rehabilitated 140 water supply systems and constructed 3,000 temporary shelters using reclaimed materials,” said IRC’s country director in Pakistan, Mustafa Elkanzi. “We have also trained about 800 government teachers; distributed school materials to 100 schools and established over 60 ‘child-friendly spaces’, where young survivors can go to heal and resume play and learning activities.”
As Pakistan prepares to mark the October 8 anniversary, the IRC is stepping up efforts to help survivors, many still living in improvised shelters, prepare for the upcoming winter. Last week, IRC teams provided 620 families with winterized bedding kits in Jabba, the biggest camp in the Mansehra district, one of the hardest-hit areas in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. The kits include plastic sheets, quilts, blankets, shawls, mats, soap and washing detergent.
The winters in the Himalayan foothills are extremely harsh with snowfalls of up to 10 feet (three meters) and below-zero temperatures (minus 20 degrees centigrade).
“The expected winter rains and snow is likely to make the situation even more desperate for those living in tents or damaged buildings,” said Elkanzi. “Our emergency teams are prepared to respond. In the meantime, we are distributing milk and winterized beddings to children and expecting mothers. We have also provided farmers with seeds and fertilizers so that they can grow wheat and other crops suitable for winter temperatures. Our aim is to help people in the earthquake areas to recover their livelihoods with dignity.”