UN appeals for more aid for devastated Pakistan region

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

UN comments on alleged lack of aid

Kofi Annan, Secretary general of the United Nations

Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, has sent out a plea for more aid for regions of Pakistan affected by this month's devastating earthquake. He fears thousands could die if aid does not arrive soon.

The death toll from the earthquake is already feared to be at least 79,000.

"...Unlike some natural disasters, in which victims die immediately, the death toll in Pakistan is not over yet," Annan says. "An estimated three million men, women and children are homeless. Many of them have no blankets or tents to protect them against the merciless Himalayan winter. That means a second, massive wave of death will happen if we do not step up our efforts now.

Helicopters and trucks are of the greatest need.

"The money to pay for those things has been lacking", said Annan."So far, we have received firm commitments for only 12 per cent of our appeal. That is $37 million US out of the $312 million that we need."

During the massive relief effort for the Dec. 26 tsunami 80 percent of the appeal was filled in 10 days.

A major donor conference has been called for next week by Annan. He hopes it will help speed up aid.

"There are no excuses," Annan also said. "If we are to show ourselves worthy of calling ourselves members of humankind, we must rise to this challenge."

Flag of the United Nations

Officials suggest major evacuation

Emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland said today that NATO needs to organize a massive air-lift if it wants to save lives. The evacuation needs to take place before winter sets in. The main taget would be small isolated villages.

NATO has been air-lifting in aid every day from it's base in Germany. Another "air brigade" was added recently from Turkey.

The major airlift is needed "to get supplies in and people out," Egeland told CBC News on Thursday. In order to shelter everyone who is homeless they need, "350,000 tents, which is a mind-boggling number, more than we know exist in the world, are needed..." "We have emptied all of our warehouses."

Flag of NATO

Difficult decisions being made on rescue front

Feeling the need to prevent the feared second wave of death, rescuers are in the process of making hard decisions. Aid workers have decided that, this weekend, the focus will switch from treating 87,000 injured to getting aid to the homeless.

"It's a tough call but we have to face the fact that we're going to save more lives by getting tents, shelter, food, and supplies up to the people who have nothing [rather] than continuing to bring the injured down," said Capt. Edward Parsons, with the UN's Humanitarian Relief Operation in Pakistan

Helicopters are "double tasking" in their trips to small villages. They drop off supplies then pick up the injured. However, the method is proving time-consuming, the need to speed up inward air-lifts is growing.