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South Asia earthquake: UNHCR welcomes contributions from European Union, United States and others

Briefing notes

South Asia earthquake: UNHCR welcomes contributions from European Union, United States and others

2 December 2005

After the weekend's snow, temperatures are climbing again in northern Pakistan's quake zone. No mass movements have so far been noted from the upper valleys, but the government in North West Frontier Province has warned that 100,000 to 200,000 more people could come down from higher elevations as winter sets in. The authorities in Pakistan-administered Kashmir expect 30,000 additional arrivals.

According to the government, there are a total of 502 camps with 187,506 people in the two provinces. Of these, 30 are planned/organised camps (with over 36,000 people) run by the local authorities or NGOs and supported by UNHCR. We are working closely with the government to identify more sites to host possible new arrivals from higher elevations. Our planning figure for six months is for up to 250,000 people in valley camps.

Winterization activities started two weeks ago. So far, we've distributed 341,042 blankets and 71,839 plastic sheets to quake survivors in remote villages, planned and spontaneous camps. Each person gets three blankets and each family two plastic sheets to improve insulation against the cold. At the same time, we've agreed with the government to start camp-wide distribution of kerosene stoves within 10 days. With our partners on the ground, we have presently deployed 16 mobile teams in various quake-affected areas. The teams provide technical expertise and assistance. In the coming weeks, we are planning to increase the number of these small, mobile teams to a total of 65.

UNHCR is also continuing its efforts to bring as many relief items as possible to Pakistan. We are about to start airlifting 14,400 stoves on UNHCR charter flights from Jordan, and by next week we hope to send an additional 12,600 stoves from Turkey. Since the Oct. 8 earthquake, UNHCR has airlifted over 1,780 tonnes of various relief items to Pakistan in 110 NATO flights and 14 UNHCR-chartered planes. On the ground, we now have more than 600,000 blankets, some 100,000 plastic sheets, 22,000 family tents, 36,000 mats, 44,000 sleeping bags, 5,000 stoves and many more items. Much of this aid has already been distributed.

All of this, of course, costs money, and we're pleased to note that UNHCR's earthquake relief programme has received a welcome new infusion of support from the European Union. The European Commission's Humanitarian Office (ECHO) has pledged a total of 4.1 million Euros (nearly US$ 5 million) to UNHCR's operation, funding which will be used primarily for the provision of shelter for earthquake survivors and improved management of the camps in which they live. We have also received a welcome commitment from the United States. So far, UNHCR has actually received a total of $16.3 million, which covered our immediate needs through the month of November. Contributions have come from Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.