Pakistan's quake victims facing harsh winter, says church aid worker

Pakistan's quake victims facing harsh winter, says church aid worker

December 31, 2006
Written by Daniel Hazard

More than a year has passed since the devastating earthquake in Pakistan, but a church aid group working is warning that most of the 3 million quake victims are still without proper shelter and face an encroaching harsh winter.

"There is only a small window of time before winter hits. We are faced with a ticking time bomb," cautioned Mervan Pervez, director of the UCC-supported Church World Service's Afghanistan/Pakistan relief work. Pervez, who made an urgent appeal for additional support on Oct. 10, is working in Pakistan on behalf of the Geneva-based ACT International, of which the UCC is an active member.

More than 75,000 people were killed and more than 3 million were left homeless when the powerful 7.6 earthquake hit the mountainous region on October 8, 2005.

The church aid group noted that only 20 percent of quake-affected families had been able to start work on permanent shelters while others live in partially-built houses and temporary tent shelters erected last year that have worn out and been damaged by rain and the elements.

"The situation will be awful this year as the pace of relief work in this difficult region is slowing down," Usman Adam, CWS spokesperson in Pakistan told Ecumenical News International on Oct. 13 from Islamabad.

Adam said that at least 200,000 families have hardly any shelter while others will struggle to keep themselves warm in the freezing Kashmir region where meteorologists are predicting a harsh winter.

Coinciding with the quake anniversary, hundreds of survivors and activists marched on Pakistan's Parliament in Islamabad bearing placards with messages like "stop taking bribes" and "build our homes before snowfall."

Many survivors accuse government agencies such as Pakistan's Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority, which is coordinating rebuilding efforts, of being corrupt and say they have dragged their feet in reconstructing devastated towns.

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