Press Release: Last Chance to Avert Second Wave of Deaths in Pakistan
On the eve of the International Donors Conference in Islamabad, six of the largest international humanitarian aid organizations responding to the Pakistan quake relief effort have joined together to issue an emergency appeal for increased funding for life-saving efforts in Kashmir and the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP).
The International Rescue Committee, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), World Vision, Save the Children, CARE International in Pakistan, and Mercy Corps urged members of the Conference to not overlook the emergency needs of this disaster despite the long-term strategic focus of the conference. The onset of winter, they warned, is likely to result in a second wave of deaths.
We have the chance to save thousands of lives, but the world community must act now, says Cassandra Nelson, Mercy Corps' emergency spokesperson. We have the capacity to respond, but we are under-funded and under-equipped. This response needs more money.
The first snows have already hit Kashmir and the NWFP. The window for responding to the crisis is closing rapidly, but major gaps in funding may leave thousands of families without adequate shelter and resources to survive the winter.
The humanitarian aid community applauds the efforts of the Government of Pakistan and the donor community in developing a long-term recovery strategy for the region, but urges greater assistance.
Tremendous progress has been made in the disaster response, but more much more is needed, says Sigurd Hanson, World Vision Country Director for Pakistan. We support the process for the donors' conference, but implore the attendees to also focus on immediate, life-saving needs. The emergency phase is not over.
Shelter remains the most pressing need. An all-out aid effort by the humanitarian community and the Pakistan Government continues to focus on providing materials and technical support to build warm rooms'; the provisioning of self-help shelter repair kits; the provisioning of winterized tents, and the winterization of existing tents.
More funding is needed immediately to provide basic shelter for tens of thousands of people facing the prospect of a harsh winter without adequate shelter, says Jack Norman, CRS Country Representative for Pakistan. If the response from the international community is too little or too late, we'll be witnessing a second tragedy.
Medical concerns are also mounting, particularly around the rising number of acute respiratory infection cases caused by exposure. The need to improve water and sanitation is growing by the day, with reports of thousands of cases of watery diarrhea, gastritis, scabies and communicable diseases. Infants and children face the gravest risk.
With more than 2.2 million children affected by the quake, child protection issues are critical. Since the earthquake six weeks ago, most children in the affected regions are without access to support systems their schools, collapsed, are far from reopening; their families, overwhelmed with survival issues, have few means to respond to their trauma. Still, hundreds of thousands of children are homeless.