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Pakistan relief camp benefits from Korean cuisine

News Stories, 10 November 2005

© UNHCR/B.Baloch
South Korea's Centre for Emergency Relief building their kitchen in Bassian camp.

BALAKOT, Pakistan, November 10 (UNHCR) When the South Korean Emergency Relief Centre in Seoul heard about the devastating earthquake in Pakistan, its chairman gathered his resources and rushed over ... with cooking supplies.

"Just hearing about the magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale is enough to terrify someone; imagine those who were actually there when the tremors jolted the earth," says Kim Beam Kon, chairman of the relief centre. "We are here representing the people of South Korea to show our solidarity with the people of Pakistan in these trying times."

He and two other colleagues have come all the way from South Korea to provide cooked food for 2,838 people living in tents at Bassian camp in Balakot, northern Pakistan.

"The idea is to make a kitchen, prepare three meals a day and distribute it among the earthquake survivors in the camp, so that they don't have to worry about food as they have already been through a traumatizing time," Kim explains, adding that the kitchen serves Pakistani food and has a Korean bakery.

Bassian camp is one of 18 UNHCR-supported camps with a capacity for more than 3,200 families that survived the earthquake in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and North-West Frontier Province. The UN refugee agency is providing material and technical advice to help the Pakistan military and non-governmental organisations manage these camps.

"We have provided around 2,000 tents to the Pakistan army in three camps around Balakot town that have a population of 7,000 earthquake survivors," says Inam Ullah Khan, a UNHCR field officer in Balakot. "The army pitches the tents and allocates them to families arriving from mountain villages who at times have lost almost everything and had to walk for days to come here."

In addition to Khan, UNHCR has deployed a dozen national and international staff members in and around Balakot to oversee the relief activities. "It's encouraging to see services getting started in different sectors," adds Khan. "Now we have schools, clinics, drinking water, and soon a proper water and sanitation system will be in place in all the three camps."

Outreach workers from the Society for Sustainable Development a local non-governmental organization (NGO) are going from tent to tent to raise awareness of hygiene issues.

Taraque Foundation, a UNICEF partner and NGO based in Pakistan's south-western province of Balochistan, has started classes from grade one to eight in Ghari Habibullah camp near Bassian. The school in Bassian camp is ready to start classes soon.

"Starting proper classes in camps is a challenge, but we have been successful in establishing the school in the tents," says Adeel Qaiser, Taraque Foundation's relief coordinator. "There are over 200 boys and girls in Ghari Habibullah camp enrolled in the school and we hope that numbers will go up." He added that male and female teachers have been hired from within the community.

© UNHCR/B.Baloch
Kim Beam Kon, chairman of the South Korean Emergency Relief Centre, examining the kitchen construction plan despite an injured arm.

Back in Bassian camp, Kim is busy running the kitchen with people he hired from the camp. Despite hurting his arm when building the kitchen, he is soldiering on to make sure the camp residents can enjoy a variety of dishes.

"We love the people of Pakistan," he says, before disappearing into a UNHCR tent storing food supplies. What better way to show it than to share a hot meal on a cold autumn night. The relief centre plans to continue distributing food in the camp for six months.

By Babar Baloch in Bassian camp, northern Pakistan

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UNHCR country pages

Pakistan Earthquake: A Race Against the Weather

With winter fast approaching and well over a million people reported homeless in quake-stricken Pakistan, UNHCR and its partners are speeding up the delivery and distribution of hundreds of tonnes of tents, blankets and other relief supplies from around the world.

In all, the NATO-UNHCR airlift, which began on 19 October, will deliver a total of 860 tonnes of supplies from our stockpiles in Iskenderun, Turkey. Separately, by 25 October, UNHCR-chartered aircraft had so far delivered 14 planeloads of supplies to Pakistan from the agency's stocks in Copenhagen, Dubai and Jordan.

On the ground, UNHCR is continuing to distribute aid supplies in the affected areas to help meet some of the massive needs of an estimated 3 million people.

Pakistan Earthquake: A Race Against the Weather

Pakistan Earthquake: The Initial Response

The UN refugee agency is providing hundreds of tonnes of urgently needed relief supplies for victims in northern Pakistan. UNHCR is sending family tents, hospital tents, plastic sheeting, mattresses, kitchen sets, blankets and other items from its global stockpiles. Within a few days of the earthquake, just as its substantial local stocks were all but exhausted, UNHCR began a series of major airlifts from its warehouses around the world, including those in Denmark, Dubai, Jordan and Turkey.

UNHCR does not normally respond to natural disasters, but it quickly joined the UN humanitarian effort because of the sheer scale of the destruction, because the quake affected thousands of Afghan refugees, and because the agency has been operational in Pakistan for more than two decades. North West Frontier Province (NWFP), one of the regions most severely affected by the quake, hosts 887,000 Afghan refugees in camps.

While refugees remain the main focus of UNHCR's concern, the agency is integrated into the coordinated UN emergency response to help quake victims.

Pakistan Earthquake: The Initial Response

Pakistan Earthquake: Major push to Bring in Aid before Winter

With the snow line dropping daily, the race to get relief supplies into remote mountain areas of Pakistani-administered Kashmir intensifies. In a major push to bring aid to the people in the Leepa Valley, heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the British Royal Air force airlifted in 240 tonnes of UNHCR emergency supplies, including tents, plastic sheeting, stoves, and kitchen sets.

At lower elevations, UNHCR and its partners have dispatched emergency teams to camps to train members of the Pakistani military in site planning, camp management, winterization and the importance of water and sanitation – all crucial to containing disease during the long winter ahead.

By mid-November, UNHCR had provided a total of 19,356 tents, 152,325 blankets, 71,395 plastic sheets and tens of thousands of jerry cans, kitchen sets and other supplies. More of the agency's supplies are continuing to arrive in Pakistan on various airlifts, including a 103-flight joint NATO/UNHCR airlift from Turkey. Other UNHCR airlifts have brought in supplies from the agency's warehouses in Jordan, Dubai and Denmark.

Pakistan Earthquake: Major push to Bring in Aid before Winter

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