2 August 2006

United Nations Assistance for Tajikistan Earthquake

NEW YORK, 1 August (OCHA) -- Two earthquakes of magnitudes 5.3 and 5.4 shook the Central Asian country of Tajikistan on Saturday morning and afternoon, respectively, affecting parts of two southern districts -- Kumsangir and Panj -- close to the border with Afghanistan.

Approximately 9,000 people have been directly affected by the earthquakes. Damage to the electricity and other key social infrastructures have been reported in a large part of Kumsangir District.

The Government of Tajikistan has activated the Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team, which began an initial assessment mission on 29 July, in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme and the Tajik Red Crescent. A second joint assessment mission, to be led by the Deputy Prime Minister, was expected to depart for the affected area today.

The Emergency Situations Ministry, which is responsible for leading the national response, has set up tents in the affected areas. Some 30 metric tons of food and fuel supplies have been dispatched by the Government and, relief teams are arranging for the delivery of clean drinking water.

The Government of Tajikistan has requested assistance from the United Nations and the wider international community. Immediate needs for tents, blankets, mattresses, food, clothing, fuel, medication and other equipment have been identified. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has allocated a $20,000 emergency cash grant to address urgent needs.

OCHA has also established contact with the Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan to gather information on the earthquakes' impact in that country. An initial Government assessment mission indicates that damage was limited and that emergency relief needs are covered. The Afghan Red Crescent, with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross will provide food and non-food assistance to some 109 families affected by the earthquakes, while the United Nations Children's Fund and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will provide other non-food assistance.

For further information, please call Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; or Vanessa Huguenin, OCHA-Geneva,+41 22 917 1891. OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

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