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South Asia earthquake: Emptied warehouses will need refilling if refugees are not to suffer

Briefing notes

South Asia earthquake: Emptied warehouses will need refilling if refugees are not to suffer

1 November 2005

With some 2,000 tonnes of UNHCR aid supplies now on the ground and more on the way to quake-hit Pakistan, we and our partners are rushing to get everything distributed - especially tents - before the onset of winter weather in just a few weeks. The distribution of more than 20,000 UNHCR tents is a top priority. In a few more weeks, those tents will be useless if they're still stacked in warehouses and we're unable to get them out to the people who need them most. That's why some of our Pakistani staff, including our truck drivers, have agreed to work right through the Eid holidays this weekend. This really is a race against time and the weather. If we lose, people are going to suffer even more.

The Pakistan military, UNHCR and other partners are working in 12 camps that so far have a combined population estimated at more than 15,000 people. More people are coming down from the mountains daily. Some collect assistance and head back to their villages, refusing to leave their land and their livestock in the upper valleys. Others are brought by the military to the camps or find accommodation elsewhere at lower elevations. In addition to the 12 camps UNHCR is working in, there are hundreds of spontaneous settlements - some of them quite large - all over the quake-affected region. UNHCR expert teams are on the ground to provide advice and support in ensuring camps are properly planned and laid out. More services are being established in the planned camps, including water systems, schools, latrines and security for women and children.

The Pakistan military is also using UNHCR tents and other supplies for distribution in remote areas.

As of last night, the ongoing NATO-UNHCR airlift of 860 tonnes of relief items from our stockpiles in Turkey had flown 45 sorties and delivered 646 tonnes to Pakistan. That is about 75 percent of the total we plan to move from Turkey in this unprecedented airlift which began two weeks ago. Cargo aircraft provided by Turkey, France, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Denmark and the United States are participating in the airlift. Separately, UNHCR has also delivered at least 14 planeloads of supplies from its emergency stockpiles in Denmark, Dubai and Jordan, and sent convoys from its warehouses in neighbouring Afghanistan and from Iran. We also emptied our warehouses in Quetta and Peshawar, Pakistan.

In all, we have provided over 2,000 tonnes of supplies, including 232,000 blankets, 20,000 tents, 83,300 plastic sheets, 33,000 jerry cans and many other items.

While 2,000 tonnes is a lot, it's still just a drop in the bucket when we look at the enormous needs. Thus, UNHCR logistics experts are still analysing our remaining emergency stocks around the world and have identified additional materials. Most of these stocks were meant for UNHCR operations and contingencies elsewhere, but will now be sent as a matter of urgency to Pakistan. UNHCR reminds donors, however, that we will need to replenish these stocks quickly. They include 320,580 blankets, 15,000 plastic sheets, 1,495 tents, 12,606 stoves, 30,996 mattresses, 1,840 kitchen sets and 6,700 jerry cans from our emergency stockpiles in Turkey, Jordan and Denmark. We are discussing with NATO the possibility of additional airlift capacity to get these materials to Pakistan.

Funding remains a problem. UNHCR has received only $5.5 million of the $30 million it needs for this operation. Donations include $847,458 from Canada; $300,000 from the Czech Republic; $1 million from Japan; $2,570,694 from Sweden; $500,000 from Turkey; and $323,415 from Italy. This figure does not include in-kind contributions - such as trucks and manpower for the transport of goods in Turkey, as well as aircraft and logistical support from various NATO countries.