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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




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: Fleeing to Safety

More than 1.5 million people flee their homes in North-West Pakistan.

Fighting between the army and Taliban militants in and around the Swat Valley in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province has displaced more than 1.5 million people since the beginning of May. Some of the displaced are being sheltered in camps set up by the government and supplied by UNHCR. Others - the majority, in fact - are staying in public buildings, such as schools, or with friends and extended family members. Living conditions are harsh. With the onset of summer, rising temperatures are contributing to a range of ailments, especially for villagers from Swat accustomed to a cooler climate. Pakistan's displacement crisis has triggered an outpouring of generosity at home. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is urging a "massive" assistance effort from abroad as well.

Pakistan: Fleeing to Safety

Pakistan: Finding Refuge

Pakistani civilians continue to stream out of the region around the Swat Valley to find shelter in Mardana

More than 2 million people, according to local authorities, have been forced from their homes following Pakistani efforts to drive militants out of the region around north-west Pakistan's Swat Valley. Some 200,000 are living in camps set up by the Pakistani government and supplied by UNHCR and other agencies. The remainder are staying in schools or other communal buildings or being hosted by families. The heat is intense, reaching 45 degrees Celsius, and many of the displaced are suffering from heat-related infections and water-borne illnesses, although conditions are improving. UNHCR is providing tents, cooking sets, plastic sheeting and jerry cans, among other aid items. Award-winning photographer Alixandra Fazzina has spent the last two weeks documenting the plight of the internally displaced, from their arrival in safe areas, to the camps, schools and homes in which they now find themselves.

Pakistan: Finding Refuge

Pakistan: Returning HomePlay video

Pakistan: Returning Home

Since the beginning of November, UNHCR has been offering an enhanced package to every registered refugee in Pakistan choosing to go home to Afghanistan.
Pakistan: Helping the HostsPlay video

Pakistan: Helping the Hosts

Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan's Balochistan province have access to schools and basic services, but the cost is not easy to bear.
Pakistan: Pushed to SafetyPlay video

Pakistan: Pushed to Safety

Thousands are forced to flee the fighting in Pakistan's Khyber Agency on the border with Afghanistan.