Friday, October 14, 2005

A Firsthand report from North Western Frontier Province and Punjab

I just came back from a tour of the worst hit areas in Kashmir, North Western Frontier Province and Punjab. Distribution of aid has not been effectively managed, meaning there are huge swaths of areas that have recieved nothing while others are glutted with goods that are now unneeded.

Dead and alive are still trapped within the rubble. I spoke with distraught Kashmiris there and they say they need help pulling out their loved ones from the rubble. They need the equipment and expertise to pull the crushing weight off those who still survive. They're losing hope if help does not arrive soon.

I'm wondering about the deathcount. Officially, it keeps being pushed up, but knowing as I do that the recovery of dead bodies has not yet even begun on a large scale in even the capital city of Kashmir, these numbers cannot be trusted. Levelled neighbourhoods of Muzaffarabad smell so strongly of decay it is a wonder if anyone in those areas survived.

Doctors tell me they need surgical supplies and the transport facilities to get the most needy to the operation theatres in other cities. They need more helicopters and C130s to airlift victims and more field hospitals. At this stage, they say there is little they can do but bandage flesh wounds and give basic medicines.

The real need for Pakistan has not even barely been met. Do not stop your efforts to help these people. Just change your focus - give your money to medical relief groups like the Red Crescent, Medicines Sans Frontiers, Edhi and others. If you want to buy something, there is a huge need for tents, tarpaulines and waterproof coverings.
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