This weekend sees the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake which claimed 73,000 lives, injured equally as many and made around 3 million people homeless – many of them children – in wide areas of Kashmir (Pakistan, India).
By the end of last year, Swiss Solidarity had raised CHF 12 million. Six of its partner organizations have provided mainly emergency relief totalling CHF 9.6 million. The relief has helped some 20,000 victims and consisted mainly of temporary accommodation (several thousand tents and tarpaulins), woollen blankets, children’s clothing and heating ovens as well as the construction of latrines.
In the meantime, the relief organizations have begun their task of longer-term aid and rebuilding. One year after the severe earthquake, tuition for tens of thousands of pupils is still being given in tents or out in the open.
Caritas will soon begin construction of 20 schools including furnishings and sanitary facilities. Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS) is concentrating on schools and drinking water. The organization is planning the construction of seven schools for 2000 pupils as well as drinking water systems for 15 villages.
The Swiss Red Cross is committing CHF 2 million to rebuild the drinking water system in the North Western Province. Schools and hospitals will also be connected to this system. The building of latrines and hygiene instruction given by volunteers from the Pakistan Red Crescent are measures intended to combat the outbreak of disease.
Handicap International is looking after around 1000 people who will remain permanently disabled after amputations, as well as over 700 paraplegics and tetraplegics. 57 volunteers have been trained in Pakistan for this work. The Terre des hommes Foundation is caring for children and their families who suffered psychological traumatization after the disaster.
Many of the victims were able to survive last winter thanks to the generous help from all over the world. But more effort is also needed this winter to reduce the incidence of death and disease.