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Church World Service Plans Reconstruction Efforts Amid Winter, Heavy Rain and Snow

Following heavy rain and snow, relief helicopters in the air in Northern Pakistan are seen as vital in sending aid to Pakistan earthquake survivors, as efforts to distribute aid during the winter cont
( [email protected] ) Jan 11, 2006 11:48 AM EST

Following heavy rain and snow, relief helicopters in the air in Northern Pakistan are seen as vital in sending aid to Pakistan earthquake survivors, as efforts to distribute aid during the winter continues.

The global humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS), who were among the first agencies to respond to the earthquake that struck Pakistan on October 8, reported that they found some areas that did not receive much aid until recently.

From Islamabad, CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan Country Director Marvin Parvez said in a CWS report on Jan. 7 that teams in the regions identified 200 families in Dhulla Maira and Dharmang villages, in union council Dhudyal, Tehsil and Mansehra District received minimal assistance. CWS responded by providing them with tents, sheets and shawls.

"We are concerned that many will yet die of exposure, especially those who've remained in their villages and have still received little by way of shelter materials or other aid," Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS CEO and executive director said from the international headquarters in New York according to a statement on Saturday. "The haste to avert further deaths is still of the first order."

Amid the winter and approaching blizzards, CWS is already planning reconstruction efforts for the survivors, most of whom are living in tents and trying to stay warm, sources report.

However, in recent meetings with some of the male residents of the Shohal Najaf tent village regarding reconstruction efforts, CWS P/A found that many were concerned more on whether their emergency tents could withstand the heavy snow and rain forecasted in the coming weeks.

Parvez said, according to CWS, that the tents they have distributed are winterized, however there is a shortage of "corrugated iron sheets" that are used for building and immediate winter shelter, meanwhile, noting that thousands are still living in "summer-weight tents" in the snow and wet.

Responding to the flooding in some camps, CWS teams and its partners, along with the United Nations and other NGOs are working to move families from the damaged tents into drier alternatives.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP), which has covered an estimated 65 percent of the population targeted to be served, has received a contribution from the United Kingdom to help operate a helicopter fleet that will bring assistance to the earthquake survivors, the U.N. News Center reported on Tuesday.

The money will help the U.N. continue their airlift operation to provide aid until the end of March. However, officials are warning, according to the UN, that if additional funding does not come in, the current operation may have to be halted in the second half of March.

WFP said, the air operations has enabled them to reach hundreds of thousands of people in high altitude areas, which are no longer accessible due to the snowfall, thus allowing them to assist these areas for up to two months, the UN reported.

Since the earthquake hit the mountainous region of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the death toll has risen to more than 73,000 people, leaving millions homeless.

CWS and partner teams report that more than 219,000 houses were destroyed through the impacted area, and up to 90 percent of buildings collapsed from the quake. At least 9,000 quake victims are still missing.

After over 50 years Church World Service continues to provide relief and development operations in Pakistan. The campaign for northern Pakistan continues in the U.S. as CWS raises funds for ongoing emergency relief and long-term recovery.