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Church World Service expands tent village for quake survivors

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Photo by Marianne Preus Jacobsen, NCA-ACT

The quake left this young Pakistani, who lives in Balakot, nothing but two bags with food and clothes.
Nov. 8, 2005

NEW YORK (UMNS) — As many as 200,000 tents are still needed for survivors of the Oct. 8 earthquake in Southern Asia, along with food aid for more than 2 million people.

The United Nations reported in early November that it has received pledges of less than a quarter of the $550 million it is seeking to respond to the earthquake, which resulted in at least 73,000 deaths and nearly as many injuries.

Relief workers consider the situation a race against time because the approaching winter will make it difficult to reach remote villages in the Himalayas.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is working with Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan to assist earthquake survivors, particularly in northern Pakistan and Kashmir.

CWS announced Oct. 27 that it would expand the capacity of a new tent village it has established in Bisyan for the most vulnerable quake survivors, providing shelter and medical services for 2,450 people. The Church of Pakistan is providing medical services within the camp.

A week later, the tent village had a functioning mosque, a dependable supply of clean drinking water, latrines and an outpatient medical facility. New relief parcels, including health kits, kitchen sets and utensils, are being distributed.

CWS also expects to open a separate cooking area for the growing number of families — averaging eight children and adults — housed in the camp.

Scores of patients already have been treated at the CWS camp clinic, which is supported by a larger hospital run by the Diocese of Peshawar. With eight latrines already in service at the tent village, CWS planned to open 42 more latrines over the next few days.

One concern is the number of unattended children at the camp. According to Marvin Parvez, CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan regional director, most of the children have lost at least a father or a mother. “There is no clear figure as to how many children are displaced,” he said.

“We are receiving reports,” he added, “that the limbs of quake-affected children are being amputated at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Polyclinic and other hospitals because of lack of plastic surgery experts.”

Quake-affected children also are suffering from mental disorders and physical disabilities. In addition to emergency relief, CWS is beginning to put pieces in place to provide psychosocial services for quake survivors, especially the children.

So far, CWS has distributed shelter kits to serve 27,167 individuals. The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum reports that many people have asked for tin sheets so that they can construct family shelters based on their individual needs. Some people still are reluctant to come down from the hills to tent villages for fear of having their livestock or the remains of their homes looted in their absence.

UMCOR has a bulletin insert, “A Message of Hope: When the Earth Shakes and the Mountains Give Way,” available for local churches. It can be downloaded at on the UMCOR Web site.

Donations to the United Methodist relief effort can be marked for “UMCOR Advance #232000, Pakistan Earthquake,” and placed in church offering plates or sent to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, N.Y. 10087-9068. Contributions also can be made by phone at (800) 554-8583 or online at If funds are intended for recovery in a specific region, that should be noted. More information is available at

*Church World Service provided information for this story.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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