On Sat., Oct. 22, at 5:00 p.m., the Pakistan Association of Greater Seattle is organizing an earthquake relief fundraising dinner; tickets are only $20. -- With three million displaced and winter setting in, time is of the essence. -- The New York Times is calling this "the most difficult relief operation the world has ever faced." -- But "international response has been weak." -- "To help Pakistan," the Times reports, "foreign donors have so far pledged $86 million of the $312 million needed, or 28 percent. 'This is not enough,' the top relief envoy of United Nations, Jan Egeland, said at a news conference in Geneva on Thursday morning. 'We have never had this kind of logistical nightmare ever. We thought that the tsunami was as bad as it could get. This is worse.'" ...
WHAT: Pakistan earthquake relief fundraising dinner
WHO: Pakistan Association of Greater Seattle
WHEN: Saturday, October 22, at 5:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: South Campus Center, University of Washington (behind UW Medical Center)
[Information from flyer available here.]
PAKISTAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUNDRAISING DINNER
Saturday, October 22, 2005, 5:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
South Campus Center, University of Washington (behind UW Medical Center)
Let's help bring their smiles back!
For more information: 206-999-9706 and 206-226-7216
Jazbah.org -- Women of Pakistan
Pakistan Students Association, UW
Taste of India
WINTER IS THE ENEMY FOR QUAKE'S HOMELESS MILLIONS
By Somini Sengupta and David Rohde
New York Times
October 21, 2005
ISLAMABAD -- United Nations and private aid workers said Thursday that the pressing need to shelter up to three million Pakistani earthquake survivors before the harsh Himalayan winter sets in was threatening to become the most difficult relief operation the world has ever faced.
Compounding the problems posed by the sheer number of people displaced -- three times as many as those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami last December -- are the mountainous terrain and the onset of a winter that is likely to arrive in less than three weeks and sever the stricken mountain hamlets of the north from the rest of the country until spring.
And yet, perhaps out of fatigue after a year of seemingly endless natural disasters, aid officials say, the international response has been weak. Even in the face of the epic destruction, foreign donors have so far pledged less than $90 million, or barely a quarter of the $312 million that the United Nations estimates it will need for immediate relief.
"It's the most difficult humanitarian crisis ever," said Andrew Macleod, chief operations officer in the United Nations Emergency Coordination Center in Islamabad, "because the scale is huge, the logistics are so difficult, and there's such a brutal winter coming on." In recent days as his office assessed the damage across the far-flung hamlets dotting the Himalayas, the most credible estimates turned out to be "the worst-case scenarios," Mr. Macleod said.
"We have never seen anything like this," he added. The quake struck an isolated, mountainous area of about 11,000 square miles, roughly the size of Maryland.
The death toll has risen to 49,700, Pakistan's disaster response chief, Maj. Gen. Farooq Javed, said Thursday. The injured were tallied at 74,000. The earthquake struck portions of North-West Frontier Province and the Pakistani-controlled section of Kashmir.
Another 1,300 people were killed and 30,000 families left homeless in the neighboring Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir. India this week opened up phone lines for families on its side to communicate with friends and relatives on the Pakistani side.
At a news conference on Tuesday night, Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, suggested that the Line of Control that divides the Pakistani and Indian parts of Kashmir be opened as well.
India, which has sent three consignments of quake relief to Pakistan, has welcomed the proposal in principle but has said it awaits details of how it would work. The spokeswoman for the Pakistani Foreign Office, Tasnim Aslam, said Thursday evening that discussions about logistics were under way within her government.
Getting a handle on the scope of the crisis and deciding how to respond are extremely difficult. It is next to impossible to count the number of hamlets and homes scattered in the hills, and no accurate population count exists.
Of the few roads that cross the hills and valleys, many have been cut off, and the continuing aftershocks prompt landslides that block them all over again. The people who live in the hills are unable or unwilling to abandon their land and go down to the lowlands, where aid is available.
Even with helicopters from abroad, there are fewer than 80 working helicopters in the country as of Thursday, 12 days after the earthquake. United Nations officials say they need many more. In perhaps the starkest statement of need, there are not enough cold-weather tents in the world to house what the International Organization for Migration estimates to be up to 550,000 families left homeless by the quake.
The snow will surely come before enough can be made.
How many people will have to survive the winter without shelter is unclear. United Nations officials could estimate only that it would be in the tens of thousands.
"I think there is a requirement for the world community to realize the enormity of the challenge we are facing because of the nature of the terrain and the devastation," General Javed said in an interview here.
Raphael Sindaye, South Asia relief coordinator for Oxfam, the international aid group, described his own predicament. The day after the quake, he resolved to order 60,000 tents, to house about 300,000 people.
Then he looked at the availability of tents: it would be four months, deep into winter, before all of those tents could arrive. On Thursday, he said, he reduced his tent order by half. If aid groups like his are all forced to reduce their tent orders, where, he wondered aloud, will the rest of the homeless go?
"I'm really afraid the international community will not be able to cope with the disaster," he said, "simply because we can't reach people."
He said he was now planning to ask survivors what they could use to build their own shelters. "I'm hoping people out there will tell us, 'If we get this, this and this, we'll be able to do this, this and this' and survive," he said. "I can't imagine what that would be."
Destruction does not always inspire generosity. To stave off starvation in Niger, the United Nations asked for $81 million but secured commitments of under $43 million. By contrast, according to the United Nations, the emergency appeal for the December tsunami was more than 80 percent financed within 10 days of the disaster. To help Pakistan, foreign donors have so far pledged $86 million of the $312 million needed, or 28 percent.
"This is not enough," the top relief envoy of United Nations, Jan Egeland, said at a news conference in Geneva on Thursday morning. "We have never had this kind of logistical nightmare ever. We thought that the tsunami was as bad as it could get. This is worse."
The tsunami, though it killed four times as many people, displaced only a third as many as the quake in Pakistan did, and the delivery of aid was far simpler on flat terrain close to the sea. The number of homeless here dwarfs even the two million displaced by the strife in the Darfur region of Sudan. The Persian Gulf war of 1991 turned 1.5 million Iraqi Kurds into refugees in a matter of days.
The International Organization for Migration, which is in charge of setting up camps for the displaced, estimates that 62,000 tents have been sent to the affected areas.
No one is willing to say how many people will have to do without tents by the time the snow comes. Aid workers are ferrying everything from tarps to corrugated tin to hammers and nails to help people cobble together something from the rubble of their houses. NATO planes began flying in 900 tons of aid on Thursday.
Aid was most likely to reach those who could make their way to the lowlands or to roads open to relief convoys. Several camps were being set up for those willing to move in.
"You've got Darwin's fittest coming down and moving into tents," said a Unicef spokesman here, Katey Grusovin. "But you've got children, you've got elderly still remaining very high up."
Helicopters, mule trains and Pakistani soldiers continued to take relief to the upper hamlets on Thursday. Day by day, as the cold deepens, the relief window closes further.
"What they have on 1 December is what they have all winter," said Mr. Macleod, of the United Nations Emergency Coordination Center.