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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Pakistan six months on: CAFOD supports quake survivors
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¬†This weekend will mark the six month anniversary of the earthquake which devastated parts of northern Pakistan and Indian administered Kashmir last October. Over 70,000 people were killed by the earthquake and a further 3.5 million were made homeless. While the process of recovery will take years, much progress has already been made. CAFOD and its partners have been at the forefront of ongoing work to rebuild the lives of those affected. CAFOD responded immediately to the needs of the earthquake-affected communities by committing nearly £2.2 million to its partners in Pakistan. This has so far provided survivors with shelter, as well as essential equipment such as blankets, kitchen utensils, food supplies and basic health care. Now the international agency is turning its attention to supporting earthquake-affected families as they recover their livelihoods and strive to get their lives back on track. Colette Fearon, CAFOD's Regional Manager for Asia and the Middle East, has travelled to the affected regions a number of times over the past six months. She said: "When I first arrived in October the scale of the devastation was almost unimaginable. Whole towns and villages were just wiped out. Homes, schools and buildings were completely destroyed. Our first concern was ensuring survivors had adequate shelter, particularly as the bitter Himalayan winter weather was just around the corner." In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, CAFOD's partners began distributing essential items such as tents, blankets, kitchen utensils, soap and stoves. Caritas Pakistan, for example, was able to reach nearly 19,000 families through this kind of immediate relief work in the Union Districts of Boi and Dilola in northern Pakistan. They were also able to set up and operate mobile health clinics, staffed by teams of medical officers, nurses, vaccinators and dispensers. In the past six months these health teams have treated nearly 37,000 people, mainly women and children, for diseases such as diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and skin disorders. They have also immunised over 22,000 children against measles, polio and tetanus. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), another CAFOD partner, quickly began to distribute materials for building warm, durable and earthquake-resistant temporary shelters. The kits include corrugated sheeting, insulation materials, wood burning stoves, wire mesh and tools. Shelters are constructed using a mixture of these kits and items salvaged from the villagers destroyed homes. CRS work with local carpenters and engineers to build these shelters. In each targeted village a demonstration shelter is constructed so families can learn how to erect the shelters themselves and once built, the demonstration shelter is donated to a vulnerable family. These shelters have been designed to last at least two years. Over 15,000 households in villages around Mansehra and Muzaffarabad have benefited from this CRS programme. Colette Fearon said: "Great work has been done to ensure families survived the winter months. Now, the focus is turning to meeting their long-term needs. It is vital we help survivors gain back their livelihoods, supporting them in finding alternative ways of earning a living." CAFOD's partners, Caritas Pakistan and CRS, are already working with communities, helping them to restart their livelihoods. In the next few weeks, CRS will begin to distribute vouchers which can be used to buy agricultural equipment such as seeds, tools or even livestock. They will also provide vocational training in carpentry, plumbing or sewing, skills. "The next six months will be crucial for the earthquake survivors", explained Colette. "It is vital that the local economy starts working again and people are able to make a living. 'This is not just about making money, but is also good for morale and will help survivors get over the traumatic experiences of last October." Over the last six months, CAFOD has raised over £1.6 million for its own earthquake appeal, including £452,500 from parishes in England and Wales.
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