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WFP uses packhorses to reach remote quake survivors

With helicopters grounded by low cloud, rain and snow and many roads still blocked by landslides, WFP begins using packhorses and mules to bring emergency rations to survivors of the 8 October earthquake in remote mountain areas in Pakistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir

With helicopters grounded by low cloud, rain and snow and many roads still blocked by landslides, WFP has begun using packhorses and mules to bring emergency rations to survivors of the 8 October earthquake in remote mountain areas in Pakistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

By Sunday evening, WFP and other agencies, including the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Islamic Relief and Concern, as well as the Pakistan Army, had delivered food to some 440,000 people, leaving an estimated 560,000 still in desperate need of assistance.

"Extremely concerned"

There are villages where every building has been destroyed. People are out in the open with temperatures dropping below freezing

Michael Jones, Emergency Coordinator for WFP's relief operation

“We are extremely concerned about people in the most inaccessible areas. Many of them have injuries that have not been treated. There are villages where every building has been destroyed. People are out in the open with temperatures dropping below freezing. We are doing everything we can to reach them,” said Michael Jones, Emergency Coordinator for WFP’s relief operation.

The weather lifted in the region on Monday morning, making it possible for helicopters to resume flights. But with the priority still being given to providing medical help and shelter, there was little space aboard for food.

Supplementing rations

After distributing high energy biscuits – which provide essential nutrition without requiring preparation or cooking – in the immediate aftermath of the quake, WFP has started supplementing its rations with wheat flour and pulses to those with access to cooking facilities.

But its distributions are still being severely hampered by a lack of NGOs on the ground to assist with handing out the food.

Volunteers

“Under normal circumstances we would rely on NGOs to act as our implementing partners,” said Jones.

“But for the most part, we are still having to search for volunteers from the community. We are also having to negotiate directly with donkey and mule owners, to persuade them to transport supplies to villages which have had no food since the quake. All this is taking up precious time.”

In Balakot, 20 kilometres northwest of the epicentre of the earthquake, WFP is today organising the distribution of 45 tons of flour and pulses to some 66,000 people in 33 villages.

Resort in ruins

We are having to negotiate directly with donkey and mule owners, to persuade them to transport supplies to villages which have had no food since the quake. All this is taking up precious time

Michael Jones, Emergency Coordinator for WFP's relief operation

Balakot itself, which used to be a tourist resort, with stunning panoramic views of lush green hills and snow-capped mountains, now lies in ruins, with not a single building left intact.

Latest estimates by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs put the number of dead from the quake at 38,000.

But there are fears that with so many villages and communities still to be reached, this number could rise sharply.

WFP appeal

WFP is appealing to the international community for US$56 million to provide food to one million people for six months.

Donors so far include Saudi Arabia (US$3.3 million), Iceland (US$75,000) and the Faroe Islands (US$16,000). Canada (US$4.2 million) and Switzerland (US$500,000) have contributed to WFP’s separate appeal for US$23.6 million for air support.

With helicopters grounded by low cloud, rain and snow and many roads still blocked by landslides, WFP has begun using packhorses and mules to bring emergency rations to survivors of the 8 October earthquake in remote mountain areas in Pakistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

By Sunday evening, WFP and other agencies, including the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Islamic Relief and Concern, as well as the Pakistan Army, had delivered food to some 440,000 people, leaving an estimated 560,000 still in desperate need of assistance.

"Extremely concerned"

There are villages where every building has been destroyed. People are out in the open with temperatures dropping below freezing

Michael Jones, Emergency Coordinator for WFP's relief operation

“We are extremely concerned about people in the most inaccessible areas. Many of them have injuries that have not been treated. There are villages where every building has been destroyed. People are out in the open with temperatures dropping below freezing. We are doing everything we can to reach them,” said Michael Jones, Emergency Coordinator for WFP’s relief operation.

The weather lifted in the region on Monday morning, making it possible for helicopters to resume flights. But with the priority still being given to providing medical help and shelter, there was little space aboard for food.

Supplementing rations

After distributing high energy biscuits – which provide essential nutrition without requiring preparation or cooking – in the immediate aftermath of the quake, WFP has started supplementing its rations with wheat flour and pulses to those with access to cooking facilities.

But its distributions are still being severely hampered by a lack of NGOs on the ground to assist with handing out the food.

Volunteers

“Under normal circumstances we would rely on NGOs to act as our implementing partners,” said Jones.

“But for the most part, we are still having to search for volunteers from the community. We are also having to negotiate directly with donkey and mule owners, to persuade them to transport supplies to villages which have had no food since the quake. All this is taking up precious time.”

In Balakot, 20 kilometres northwest of the epicentre of the earthquake, WFP is today organising the distribution of 45 tons of flour and pulses to some 66,000 people in 33 villages.

Resort in ruins

We are having to negotiate directly with donkey and mule owners, to persuade them to transport supplies to villages which have had no food since the quake. All this is taking up precious time

Michael Jones, Emergency Coordinator for WFP's relief operation

Balakot itself, which used to be a tourist resort, with stunning panoramic views of lush green hills and snow-capped mountains, now lies in ruins, with not a single building left intact.

Latest estimates by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs put the number of dead from the quake at 38,000.

But there are fears that with so many villages and communities still to be reached, this number could rise sharply.

WFP appeal

WFP is appealing to the international community for US$56 million to provide food to one million people for six months.

Donors so far include Saudi Arabia (US$3.3 million), Iceland (US$75,000) and the Faroe Islands (US$16,000). Canada (US$4.2 million) and Switzerland (US$500,000) have contributed to WFP’s separate appeal for US$23.6 million for air support.

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