Wednesday, November 02, 2005

When Winter Comes

More links and extracts lifted, with permission, from Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta's Indian Writing

Here is
South Asia Earthquake Fact Sheet No 19, dated 31 October 2005:Close to 3 million homeless. According to Unicef, 17000 children died in the quake. Between 1.6 and 2.2 million children have been affected.
Here is Medicins Sans Frontieres' earthquake relief report
the treatment of wounds and fractures appears to be slightly
decreasing, MSF is worried that the health of thousands of homeless and
vulnerable people will deteriorate rapidly due to exposure and food
shortages. MSF teams are distributing winterized tents, blankets and
relief items such as cooking and hygiene kits, but at the moment,
limits on logistical capacity in the difficult mountainous terrain is
insufficient to get enough people adequate shelter before winter hits
in a few weeks time.
Here is an interview with the UN Humanitarian Area Coordinator:
countries still believe that it is a classic natural disaster which in
most instances has two phases. One is search and rescue, the most
intensive first 96 hours after the disaster, then a little bit of
relief and then the second phase - reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Here because of the disaster and the magnitude of that, we see
dramatically increased vulnerability of people, which never happened
before as a result of a natural disaster, at least in recent years.
Nobody remembers this kind of situation...

I think if anyone
wants to deliver a lecture on natural disasters, this quake would be
the best example because everything that could have gone wrong, went
wrong. Any difficulty you can imagine is there. What makes it
especially difficult is the dramatic increase in vulnerability of large
groups of people living in a huge territory with very difficult access
and harsh climatic conditions...

Maybe part of the difficulty is
that the images do not allow you to understand the magnitude. If you
see a couple of villages completely destroyed - and you realise that
each village may have about 500 to 1,000 people - the human brain
probably does not calculate or doesn't multiply it to see the sheer
magnitude of that.

I wanted to tell you that I flew over the
Neelum Valley. I saw with my own eyes, flying sometimes very low and by
stopping. From 90 to 100 percent of housing was destroyed. And in most
instances, if not all, 100 percent of the population does not have
housing at all. Even if a building is still there, then it is

Q: With the onset of winter, what are primary concerns at this point?

A: Funding.

Q: What will happen if donors simply don't respond? Will you scale back your activities in any way?

A: Yes. We'll scale down and phase out.
If we haven't already given, please let's give what we can.

Please go here for Unicef's statement, appeal, pictures from the first tent school, and online donation facility.

This Diwali, this Eid, please help save the children.
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