Lethal cold threatens earthquake victims

Published: 23 December 2005

Thousands of Pakistanis who lived through last October's devastating earthquake are facing a new struggle for survival, the director of Oxfam has warned. Touring the most affected areas of northern Pakistan, Oxfam Director Barbara Stocking met vulnerable families trying to shelter in the foothills of the Himalayas, where winter is bringing freezing winds and snow.

Pakistani survivors face winter struggle for survival

Thousands of Pakistanis who lived through last October's devastating earthquake are facing a new struggle for survival, the director of Oxfam has warned. Touring the most affected areas of northern Pakistan, Oxfam Director Barbara Stocking met vulnerable families trying to shelter in the foothills of the Himalayas, where winter is bringing freezing winds and snow.


"The falling temperatures could be lethal," said Stocking on a visit to the Upper Chatter Class Three camp near Muzafarabad in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

"The women here tell me that their children are so cold at night and are falling ill. But heating has been a problem because of the risk of tent fires."

Three million people were left homeless by the 8th October earthquake that struck northern Pakistan and India, killing around 80,000.

Most tents rushed to the region in the aftermath of the earthquake were unsuited to harsh winter conditions. People in the region have reportedly died from cold-related illnesses.

The Upper Chatter camp is one of over 40 in northern Pakistan where Oxfam has been working with local partners to bring relief. Here and in other camps where it is involved, Oxfam is committed to ensuring that residents are given better protection from the worsening weather.

Over 144,000 people have already benefited from Oxfam's water and sanitation operations in Pakistan, while more than 127,000 have received shelter, including winterized tents and materials for sturdier traditional structures known as bandis.
    
"People are very resourceful. Given some corrugated iron sheets and nails, they can build their bandi shelters for the winter," said Oxfam's Barbara Stocking.

"But there's so much more that needs to be done urgently. We need to improve conditions in the spontaneous camps and reach those who've stayed further up the mountain."

Oxfam has urged the international community to honor its pledges and deliver more resources so that relief organizations can prevent another humanitarian catastrophe.

Contact Information

For more information on Oxfam''s earthquake response in Pakistan please contact:
Shaheen Chugthai in Islamabad on + 92300 8560632
Or Shaista Aziz in the Oxfam Media Unit: + 44 (0) 1865 472 359 or +44 (0) 7810 814980