Pakistan quake update
With storm clouds looming over northern Pakistan's quake zone, UNHCR is intensifying its winterization drive in relief camps by replacing low quality tents, distributing heating stoves and relocating people to camps that are better equipped to cope with the bad weather.
UNHCR, which has responsibility for camp management within the UN team, is currently supporting the Pakistan government and non-governmental organisations in 144 earthquake relief camps - 26 of them planned and 118 spontaneous sites. Altogether, these camps are housing nearly 140,000 people left homeless by the quake.
Heavy rain and snow are expected any day now. The last storms we had over the New Year weekend grounded flights, cut off roads, damaged some tents and caused flooding in several camps in the earthquake affected areas. The weather improved over the Eid holidays this week, allowing us to gear up for the next cold front. Our partners have identified camps with tents that are unlikely to withstand the harsh winter, and we've received some new tents from NGOs like the Norwegian Refugee Council to replace them. We've distributed warm clothing to children and additional supplies of blankets and plastic sheets for insulation and waterproofing in camps.
Communal heating tents have been set up in the Siran Valley and Abbotabad in North West Frontier Province. In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, where there is not enough space for communal tents, we'll start distributing stoves to individual tents in the Jhelum valley this weekend after a delay caused by the three-day Eid holiday for local offices and NGO partners. Fire-fighting equipment (fire extinguishers, sand-filled buckets, shovels) and leaflets on fire safety are being distributed in the camps.
New camps have been set up for a potential new exodus from the higher elevations. Namanpura camp in Bagh has so far received 50 families evacuated by the army from the Bhedi valley. Haripur camp is near completion and will be ready to receive new arrivals in NWFP. At the same time, UNHCR is trying to persuade people at Kamalban camp in Balakot to move from their flood-prone camp on the river bank to a nearby camp with better facilities.