27 October 2005

United Nations Increases Pakistan Appeal by $238 Million

GENEVA/NEW YORK, 26 October (OCHA) -- Nearly doubling its call for urgent funding to earthquake-ravaged Pakistan, the United Nations today revised its South Asia Earthquake Flash Appeal upward to $550 million for the initial six-month emergency response period.  The original appeal for $312 million was launched on 11 October.

Since the Appeal's issuance earlier this month, the scope and size of the tragedy in Pakistan has become dramatically clearer; it has become evident that this disaster is much larger than first assumed.  While over 100 international organizations, including the United Nations, international search-and-rescue teams, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and bilateral partners, immediately poured into the country, it is clear that the response provided so far is inadequate.

Eighteen days after the earthquake, the unfolding picture reveals levels of human and economic devastation unprecedented in the history of the subcontinent.  The entire area of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) has been affected:  hundreds of towns and villages have been completely destroyed, particularly around Muzaffarabad, Mansehra, Balakot and Batagram.  Thousands of villages, individual hamlets and isolated settlements are scattered over this 28,000-square kilometre area.  The earthquake destroyed most hospitals, schools, government buildings, and communications infrastructure.  Additionally, many of the local officials needed for the immediate response fell victim to the disaster.

The majority of roads and bridges have been destroyed, not just damaged, while 900 subsequent aftershocks have caused numerous landslides, blocking remaining roads and cutting all access to some areas.  As a result, tens of thousands of people have been stranded in several mountain valleys and have still to be reached.  Thousands of the injured have not yet been treated and their injuries, although treatable, are likely to prove fatal if they are not reached within days.

It is essential to note that only a few weeks remain before the arrival of winter.  Thousands of injured, dehydrated and undernourished survivors sheltering in fields in makeshift shelters or in the open air in temperatures below zero are likely to die unless they can be reached before the harsh mountain winter sets in.  The current death toll of some 50,000 could double if aid is not immediately mobilized and delivered to those still isolated in the mountainous region.  Even considering what has already been delivered or is in the pipeline, as many as 1.5 million people may face the winter without emergency shelter of any kind.

Where earlier estimates indicated that some 1 million people were in need of immediate assistance, the United Nations and its partners have now revised that estimate upward to at least 1.6 million to 2 million individuals.  Those affected urgently require winterized shelter, medical care, food, and water and sanitation facilities, which must be delivered via commensurate logistics capacity and resources.

The United Nations has revised the Flash Appeal based on reports and assessments from the cluster groups and other partners, in close coordination with the Government of Pakistan.  Sixty-seven per cent of the overall increase in requirements is attributable to the extraordinary logistical requirements imposed by the inaccessible terrain.  Air support is required to move aid to those in need before the arrival of winter.  Any in-kind logistical contributions such as air support and trucks put at the disposal of the United Nations operation will be counted as a contribution to the Appeal, and unmet cash requirements will be reduced accordingly.

For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York,  tel: +1 917 367 5126, mobile: +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, tel: +1 917 367 9262; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, tel: +41 22 917 2653, mobile: +41 79 473 4570.

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