Oxfam calls on the world's Governments to make their military stores of winter tents available

Published: 22 November 2005

Governments of the world have today been asked to help save thousands of lives by making their military stocks of winter tents available to help the millions made homeless by the Asian earthquake.

Governments of the world have today been asked to help save thousands of lives by making their military stocks of winter tents available to help the millions made homeless by the Asian earthquake.


Oxfam International has today said that the tent crisis is so severe that the world's Governments must make any reserves of winter tents that they have available now. There are no figures available for how many tents are sitting in the warehouses of the world's armed forces but military experts believe the stockpiles could be significant.

Nick Roseveare, Oxfam's Humanitarian Director who returned from Pakistan today said:

"The situation on the ground is critical. In a few weeks it will be abysmal. We know that the world's armed forces must have winter tents sitting in their stores. These tents are currently gathering dust waiting for an emergency. While this might not be a military emergency, it is an emergency and those tents are needed to save lives."

In Pakistan, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 winter tents have been distributed so far. According to the UN another 450,000 winter tents may be required for this emergency. So far only an estimated 150,000 winter tents are thought to be in the pipeline.

Some governments including the US and Canada have already donated surplus or excess stocks of winter tents but so far governments appear unwilling to use their main military stockpiles.

"Of course we understand that the military like to be ready to rush into battle at a moments notice, but thousands of people could die unless all of the world's winter tents are made available," said Roseveare.

Some of the world's biggest militaries likely to have suitable stocks are the US, China, Russia and Canada. But smaller militaries used to operating in cold climates like those from the former soviet block and Scandinavia are also likely to have stores of winter tents.

Oxfam is calling on the armed forces to make their tents available via their development ministries and to give additional resources to deliver the tents to the earthquake affected people.

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