UNHCR relief supplies bound for earthquake victims trucked to affected areas
GENEVA, October 11 (UNHCR) - Urgently needed relief supplies for earthquake victims in Pakistan are being trucked from the UN refugee agency's warehouse in Peshawar to the badly affected area of Mansehra in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Reports of refugee casualties and damage in the area remain sketchy and a UNHCR doctor and field assistant have been dispatched to assess the situation in the camps.
"We have begun the distribution of tonnes of urgently needed relief supplies for the earthquake victims, sending family tents, hospital tents, plastic sheeting, mattresses, kitchen sets and other items from our warehouse in Peshawar," UNHCR's spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday in Geneva.
The refugee agency announced Monday it would initially distribute supplies for 100,000 people using existing stocks from its warehouses in Pakistan as well as elsewhere in the region. The first truckloads of supplies for the earthquake victims bound for Mansehra in North-West Frontier Province loaded up and left UNHCR's Peshawar warehouse the same day.
"We are now receiving reports that Afghan refugees are among the dead in the Mansehra district, where there are nearly 45,000 Afghan refugees in four camps in an area where entire villages have reportedly been flattened," said Redmond. Details of deaths and injuries to the refugees and damage to the camps remain sketchy at this stage, hampered by poor communications and blocked access.
"A UNHCR doctor and field assistant left on mission to Mansehra Tuesday to assess damage and needs in camps. More teams will follow once road conditions improve," Redmond said.
With 11 offices and more than 420 staff, UNHCR has emergency stockpiles available in Pakistan - from our warehouses in Peshawar and Quetta - and in neighbouring Afghanistan.
"But until roads can be repaired, we will need the help of helicopters to get aid to the most affected areas. North-West Frontier Province, one of the areas affected by the earthquake, hosts 887,000 Afghan refugees in several camps," Redmond told journalists.
UNHCR's emergency and logistics staff are also looking into the possibility of providing additional supplies from our global relief stockpiles further afield, including in Dubai, Jordan, Copenhagen and elsewhere.
"All of these supplies would need to be replenished quickly, however, so UNHCR can meet any other emergency demands and contingencies. This would mean additional funds would be needed from donors," Redmond said.
UNHCR has worked in Pakistan for some 25 years and is currently involved in the repatriation of more than 3.5 million Afghan refugees.