Advertisement

Analysis: Pakistan quake toll 73,000 dead

By WILLIAM M. REILLY, UPI U.N. Correspondent

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Officials say 73,000 are dead and another 69,000 injured in Pakistan alone from the 7.6 magnitude Oct. 8 earthquake where aid is still wanting and the United Nations Wednesday was unable to explain the shortfall.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at U.N. World Headquarters in New York said the government of Pakistan Wednesday released the latest official numbers on casualties, reflecting a sharp, unexplained, increase of about 16,000 deaths over Tuesday's tally.

Advertisement

Kristen Knutson, an OCHA spokeswoman, told United Press International between 3.2 million and 3.5 million need medical care and 3.2 million were homeless and need shelter.

"We are struggling," she told UPI. "We are still making initial access for many and then we need ongoing access to those we have already reached to sustain them.

"We really are not getting as much help as we need."

Asked if OCHA had an explanation of why donors were not digging deep into their pockets she said the agency was looking at "a lot of issues but don't know the driving issue" for a lack of support.

Among the issues the agency is looking at are the fact it is at end of budget year for many, "and it's also been a very dramatic year for disasters overall."

Advertisement

The Indian Ocean Tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, the Niger famine and hurricanes Katrina and Rita were among the disasters she listed.

"Those factors, coupled with the fact it has taken a couple of weeks to comprehend the true scope of the disaster," may help explain reluctance on the part of donors, she said.

One week ago, Oct. 26, in Geneva, Switzerland, a donors' conference on aid for South Asia earthquake victims was held.

More than 400 participants from 92 member states of the United Nations and members of the international humanitarian community participated.

The U.N. Flash Appeal, initially launched Oct. 11 for $312 million, was revised to nearly $550 million at the Geneva meeting after the scope and size of the devastation in Pakistan began to become clearer.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland, the world organization's emergency relief coordinator, in charge of OCHA, said 32 countries made $329 million in new pledges and the Islamic Development Bank promised about $250 million, bringing last week the total of new pledges for assistance to Pakistan to nearly $580 million.

But those were mainly bilateral pledges, explained Knutson, directly to Pakistan or through non-governmental organizations specifically for the Pakistan victims.

Advertisement

Knutson said the United Nations has received just $131 million in pledges and commitments.

The total assistance to Pakistan outside of the U.N. appeal was $222 million in commitments and another $1.02 billion in pledges.

A pledge is regarded as a promise and a commitment is counted after a contract is signed, she explained.

However, she said some of the $580 million in new pledges may yet be channeled through the United Nations.

Knutson said OCHA was trying to determine how much of the new money may be counted against the Flash Appeal. OCHA also said current information on appeal funding did not reflect some substantial in-kind contributions that have yet to be assigned a dollar amount and be counted against requirements.

"We need support from donor countries to maintain operations," Knutson said. "We are hoping we will have a breakthrough. There is a lot of support out there and a lot of it is through pre-established bi-lateral channels."

There has been more outside significant aid devoted to restructuring, but the focus still has to be life-saving in the 28,000 square mile area of northern Pakistan hit the hardest, where the relief effort is concentrated, she said.

There was some good news on the aviation front, an important one, because of impassable roads and trails.

Advertisement

A U.N. provisional count of helicopters operational Wednesday in the earthquake region was just over 100, one-third provided by the United States, which was expected to put another 10 on line in the next day or so, making it the largest operator of choppers outside the United Nations and not counting Pakistan.

But the onset of winter is traditionally marked in the region as mid- to late November. In regions above 5,000 feet annual snowfall is measured at about 11 feet.

While many helicopter donors have promised to keep flying through the winter, snowstorms could drop visibility below safety margins, putting another crimp in the relief effort.

Officials say 73,000 are dead and another 69,000 injured in Pakistan alone from the 7.6 magnitude Oct. 8 earthquake where aid is still wanting and the United Nations Wednesday was unable to explain the shortfall.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at U.N. World Headquarters in New York said the government of Pakistan Wednesday released the latest official numbers on casualties, reflecting a sharp, unexplained, increase of about 16,000 deaths over Tuesday's tally.

Kristen Knutson, an OCHA spokeswoman, told United Press International between 3.2 million and 3.5 million need medical care and 3.2 million were homeless and need shelter.

Advertisement

"We are struggling," she told UPI. "We are still making initial access for many and then we need ongoing access to those we have already reached to sustain them.

"We really are not getting as much help as we need."

Asked if OCHA had an explanation of why donors were not digging deep into their pockets she said the agency was looking at "a lot of issues but don't know the driving issue" for a lack of support.

Among the issues the agency is looking at are the fact it is at end of budget year for many, "and it's also been a very dramatic year for disasters overall."

The Indian Ocean Tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, the Niger famine and hurricanes Katrina and Rita were among the disasters she listed.

"Those factors, coupled with the fact it has taken a couple of weeks to comprehend the true scope of the disaster," may help explain reluctance on the part of donors, she said.

One week ago, Oct. 26, in Geneva, Switzerland, a donors' conference on aid for South Asia earthquake victims was held.

More than 400 participants from 92 member states of the United Nations and members of the international humanitarian community participated.

Advertisement

The U.N. Flash Appeal, initially launched Oct. 11 for $312 million, was revised to nearly $550 million at the Geneva meeting after the scope and size of the devastation in Pakistan began to become clearer.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland, also the world organization's emergency relief coordinator in charge of OCHA, said 32 countries made $329 million in new pledges and the Islamic Development Bank promised about $250 million, bringing last week the total of new pledges for assistance to Pakistan to nearly $580 million.

But those were mainly bilateral pledges, explained Knutson, directly to Pakistan or through non-governmental organizations specifically for the Pakistan victims.

Knutson said the United Nations has received just $131 million in pledges and commitments.

The total assistance to Pakistan outside of the U.N. appeal was $222 million in commitments and another $1.02 billion in pledges.

A pledge is regarded as a promise and a commitment is counted after a contract is signed, she explained.

However, she said some of the $580 million in new pledges may yet be channeled through the United Nations.

Knutson said OCHA was trying to determine how much of the new money may be counted against the Flash Appeal. OCHA also said current information on appeal funding did not reflect some substantial in-kind contributions that have yet to be assigned a dollar amount and be counted against requirements.

Advertisement

"We need support from donor countries to maintain operations," Knutson said. "We are hoping we will have a breakthrough. There is a lot of support out there and a lot of it is through pre-established bi-lateral channels."

There has been more outside significant aid devoted to restructuring, but the focus still has to be life-saving in the 28,000 square mile area of northern Pakistan hit the hardest, where the relief effort is concentrated, she said.

There was some good news on the aviation front, an important one, because of impassable roads and trails.

A U.N. provisional count of helicopters operational Wednesday in the earthquake region was just over 100, one-third provided by the United States, which was expected to put another 10 on line in the next day or so, making it the largest operator of choppers outside the United Nations and not counting Pakistan.

But the onset of winter is traditionally marked in the region as mid- to late November. In regions above 5,000 feet annual snowfall is measured at about 11 feet.

While many helicopter donors have promised to keep flying through the winter, snowstorms could drop visibility below safety margins, putting another crimp in the relief effort.

Advertisement

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement