Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN Says Funds for Pakistan's Quake Victims Running Low

A new U.N. survey of Pakistan's earthquake survivors warns that hundreds of thousands of quake victims have inadequate shelter. On average, nearly eight people are crammed into emergency tents with only two blankets per family. U.N. officials say millions more dollars are needed before winter sets in.

The urgent U.N. appeal for more resources comes as Kashmir's bitterly cold winter covers the region.

Temperatures in the high-altitude relief camps are dropping below freezing at night, and snow is beginning to accumulate in several remote districts.

Speaking to reporters in the Pakistani capital, U.N. relief coordinator Jan Vandemoortele says an additional $45 million is needed to provide the survivors warm winter blankets and proper shelter.

"Of course as we know it is getting cold," said Jan Vandemoortele. "The snow has already fallen and a major challenge for the people is to stay warm and to stay dry."

After taking a survey of the region, he said the United Nations estimates that almost 2.5 million blankets are needed.

The October 8 earthquake killed at least 80,000 people and left an estimated three million others homeless in Northern Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, most of whom have remained in the battered quake zone. More than 1,000 more were killed and many left homeless across the border in Indian Kashmir.

More than 400,000 tents have been distributed to survivors. But relief agencies warn up to 90 percent of those tents were never meant for winter use, and cannot protect people from the cold weather.

International donors have pledged more than $6 billion for Pakistan's earthquake recovery, but most of the funds have been set aside for medium and long-term development programs. The United Nations says funding for its emergency programs is running out.

The massive relief operation costs an estimated $50 to $60 million per month. But Mr. Vandermoortele said contributions this month are a only fraction of what was received in November.