An independent Chinese voluntary organization plans to assist about 5,000 families rendered homeless and seriously affected by heavy snowstorms that have hit many areas of China since the beginning of 2005.
Amity Foundation, a member organization of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT), will provide assistance in Lanping, Fugong, Gongshan, Lushui counties in Yunnan Province and Pishan County in Xinjiang Urumgar Autonomous Region, as these areas were the worst affected by the snowstorms.
“The assistance will consist of distribution of relief items in the form of 15 kilos of food rice to 10,000 individuals in about 2,500 families; 2 quilts to about 2,000 families; 2 blankets to about 2,000 families,” ACT reported Thursday. “Furthermore Amity Foundation plans to assist 350 families with the rebuilding of their houses; 3 communities to rebuild school buildings; and help reconstruct 3,000 meters of irrigation canals and 3,000 meters of drinking water systems.”
According to ACT, extremely heavy snowstorms, together with torrential rainfall, began to hit Gongshan County (in Nujiang Prefecture, Yunan Province) on Feb. 13, 2005. Between Feb. 14 and Feb. 23, a total of 262 mm of rain fell in this county, as well as a total of 960 mm of snow. By Feb. 25 the death toll due to the inclement weather had reached six.
While the government relief work was well under way, another violent snowstorm hit Nujiang Prefecture between Mar. 5 and Mar. 7, followed by another heavy snowstorm on Mar. 11 in the same area. All four counties in Nujiang Prefecture, including Gongshan, Lushui, Lanping and Fugong, were seriously affected by the worst snowstorms in one hundred years.
“The snowstorms triggered devastating avalanches, landslides and mudslides along with severe frost damage,” ACT reported. “All communication links were broken between the Prefecture and the outside.”
Official records of Mar. 11 for these areas mention 26 people killed and 3 people missing. Over 228,000 people were affected of which over 13,500 people had to be evacuated. “There was also serious damage to agriculture in the form of crop losses and livestock killed,” the global alliance continued. “Houses collapsed, schools were damaged as well as irrigation systems.”
During the same period, Feb.17-18, another heavy snowstorm hit the southern area of Xinjiang Urumgar Autonomous Region. The worst snowstorm in 30 years, accompanied by extreme temperature drops, buried the south of the autonomous region in snows as deep as 20 to 70 centimeters.
According to official statistics, by Feb. 20 the death toll here reached 8 with 2,263 injured due to the extreme weather conditions. Around 4,880 living quarters collapsed and 111,600 livestock had perished. The lives of a further two million head of livestock were threatened due to shortage of fodder.
Amity Foundation, which works in close co-operation with its local partners, the Yunnan Amity Project Office and the Xinjiang Overseas Friendship Association, also works in full co-operation with local government at county level. The organization was created in 1985 on the initiative of Chinese Christians to promote education, social services, health, and rural development from China's coastal provinces in the east to the minority areas of the west.