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Pakistan earthquake: airlift starts today

Briefing notes

Pakistan earthquake: airlift starts today

14 October 2005

A major UNHCR airlift of tonnes of emergency relief supplies for earthquake victims in Pakistan is scheduled to get underway later today, with the first flight of plastic sheeting for shelter due to leave Frankfurt for Islamabad. It will arrive in Pakistan early Saturday morning.

At least 12 flights are planned over the coming days from Jordan and Dubai, bringing relief supplies - such as tents, blankets, plastic sheeting and jerry cans from our global and regional stockpiles. More flights are currently being scheduled.

As you know, UNHCR is not normally involved in natural disasters, but given the huge scope of this, the fact that it has also affected Afghan refugees and the fact that we have been operational in Pakistan for decades, we are part of the UN joint effort. For example, as one of the world's largest procurers of tents and other emergency relief supplies, we can contribute as part of the UN effort 15,145 family tents, 220,000 blankets, 69,000 plastic sheets and thousands of jerry cans, kitchen sets, stoves and lanterns - all essentials for daily life. These items are from our existing warehouses in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as from stockpiles elsewhere in the world that will come in on the airlift.

Ten of the 12 flights I just mentioned will be from Amman, beginning tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon. All of those flights will go to Islamabad. A Boeing-747 cargo jet will leave Dubai on Monday carrying 149 tonnes of tents, and a second flight will depart there on Tuesday with more tents. In total, 4,000 tents will be shipped from Dubai.

On Saturday, a convoy of UNHCR and World Food Programme trucks is expected to leave Kabul in Afghanistan, bound for Peshawar in northern Pakistan, loaded with 1,500 tents, 20,000 blankets, 50,000 plastic sheets and 10,000 jerry cans from our warehouse in the Afghan capital.

Once the goods arrive by truck or air, including the 4,000 tents from Dubai, they will be airlifted to more remote affected areas.

Also today, Friday, a UNHCR team is planning to travel by road to the Mansehra area of the North West Frontier Province to assess the situation of some 45,000 Afghan refugees in four camps and the refugee-hosting area. Access to the region has been extremely difficult because of blocked roads. Initial reports of refugee casualties and damage to their homes is low, although villages in the area are said to have been flattened.