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Pakistan: Earthquake victims start to move home

Briefing notes

Pakistan: Earthquake victims start to move home

21 March 2006

In Pakistan, over 18,000 people have returned home from earthquake relief camps since the authorities started the camp closure process on March 10.

As lead agency for managing these camps, UNHCR maintains that returns should be informed and voluntary. According to our field staff, the main concerns for returnees are the availability of land, repairing damaged roads, shelter, drinking water and food in the villages.

We are also trying to ensure that vulnerable people, such as those who are disabled, widowed or have lost their land in landslides, are found somewhere else to live. The authorities have identified several camps to house the residual groups.

The authorities have now finalized their information on conditions in areas of return and expected assistance for shelter reconstruction. The information will be released in the media in an effort to ensure that displaced people can make an informed choice about their return.

As the focus shifts from emergency relief to rehabilitation and reconstruction, Pakistan's Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) plans to ensure the construction of seismically resistant houses in quake affected areas. There is also emphasis on preparing for the possibility of vulnerable landless families needing emergency shelter throughout the summer and the coming winter.

UNHCR has 148 emergency staff in Pakistan, as well as 54 mobile quick impact and camp management teams that are supporting the authorities in caring for some 143,000 earthquake survivors in 156 camps with 50 tents or more.