News Release

With Snow Forecast in Kashmir, Tens of Thousands at Risk


As the official death-toll in the South Asian earthquake reached 73,000, the United Nations and the International Red Cross have issued an urgent appeal, warning that tens of thousands remain at risk for freezing to death due to a shortage of funds for shelter and heating. Snow is forecast for this week.

President of Conscience International, Jennings has just returned from Kashmir with a medical team that performed emergency surgery, provided tents and blankets, and helped with evacuations by helicopter. He said today: “Our team treated scores of injured people carried on cots for days down mountain trails before they arrived at field clinics where they could be stabilized and evacuated by air. The staggering number of those killed, injured, or made homeless in the Kashmir earthquake is likely to increase substantially as winter arrives in the southern Himalayas. Over 73,000 deaths have been recorded in Pakistan alone, not counting those in India and Afghanistan. About 1.2 million of the 3.5 million homeless people are children, and are particularly vulnerable to the cold and snow. Seven thousand schools in the North West Frontier Provinces of Pakistan have been destroyed, and the number of villages affected is in the thousands. Humanitarian agencies consider the catastrophe as one of the most challenging ever because of the difficult terrain and the logistical problem of reaching remote villages. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned about a second wave of deaths from exposure and disease. Unfortunately, the UN appeal for the Kashmir crisis has generated only 24 percent of the needed funding.”
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Mittal is founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute. She said today: “As the world community responds sluggishly to the United Nations aid appeal for $550 million for earthquake victims in Pakistan, we might once again lose the ‘golden hour’ and tens of thousands more might lose their lives as they freeze to death. The donor countries have not yet learnt from famine in Niger, where failure to respond in time increased the cost of intervention from $1 per child per day in October 2004 to $80 per child per day in July this year. International aid remains a case of too little too late.”
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Emilie Parry is Oxfam America’s deputy director of humanitarian response. She said today: “If resources are not quickly made accessible to isolated communities so they can make it through the winter, the risk of death and unnecessary suffering is imminent. People need winterized tents, medicine, clothing and blankets. But there has not been the kind of funding support, both from institutional donors and private donors, so necessary for the scale of this disaster. Overall relief efforts are threatened in the short term if those funds don’t come in, and that’s not taking into account the enormous needs people will have as they struggle in the months ahead to rebuild their communities. The emotional trauma from a disaster of this magnitude, which took the lives of an estimated 73,000 people in Pakistan and more than 1,300 in India’s portion of Kashmir, cannot be overstated.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167