Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

South Asia earthquake update

Briefing notes

South Asia earthquake update

13 December 2005

The overnight earthquake of 6.7 magnitude with its epicentre in Hindu Kush area of north-east Afghanistan was felt in Pakistan, but we have no immediate reports of damage or injury to refugees or quake victims.

In Pakistan, a recent rapid assessment conducted by the UN and NGOs among 3,000 earthquake-affected households below the snowline (5,000 feet), concluded that some 75 per cent of households are in need of additional support in terms of structural and/or thermal protection. The survey also made clear that an estimated 3,000 tents will need structural support or to be replaced completely. More blankets, quilts, plastic sheets and tarpaulins are urgently required to help quake survivors stay warm in the winter.

With more than 20 mobile teams active, we are working hard to meet these needs. As part of its winterization campaign, UNHCR has so far distributed 322,904 blankets, 60,875 plastic sheets, 3,751 stoves and 1,209 sleeping bags. An additional 250,025 blankets, 77,281 plastic sheets and 28,993 stoves are on their way to the affected areas.

In the meantime, we continue to transport relief items into Pakistan. Over the weekend 27,000 stoves were airlifted to Pakistan from Jordan and Turkey by UNHCR commercially chartered planes, funded by the British Department for International Development. On Wednesday, we hope to dispatch another 25,000 plastic sheets from Copenhagen and 25,000 plastic sheets from Afghanistan, while 13,000 stoves from Iran will be transported by land. We are also in the process of purchasing 200,000 blankets from India and 50,000 fleece blankets from China.

To help quake survivors make the best use of these supplies, UNHCR has asked a group of Afghan refugees to demonstrate winterization techniques in planned and spontaneous camps. Five camps in North West Frontier Province now have model tents with plastic sheets covering the tents and used as ground sheeting. The Afghan refugees are also giving advice on mud igloo-like structures for stoves to reduce the danger of tent fires. Our mobile camp management teams are showing the camp populations how to build and use these structures.

UNHCR is currently supporting the Pakistan authorities and NGOs in 40 planned camps housing about 55,000 people. We've counted at least another 333 self-settled camps that have sprung up spontaneously in the quake zone. In all, more than 183,000 people are believed to be living in camps.