Relief agencies in ‘race against time’

Published December 1, 2005

Funds are still urgently needed to assist hundreds of thousands of survivors of the massive earthquake that hit villages in the border area between India and Pakistan, with relief agencies warning that a “second humanitarian disaster” looms unless help arrives before winter. Church World Service (CWS), an alliance member of Action by Churches Together (of which the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund – the relief arm of the Anglican Church of Canada – is also a member) is conducting relief operations on the ground and said it is in a “race against time.” The 7.6-magnitude quake last Oct. 8 killed an estimated 80,000 people and left more than three million homeless, said Pakistan’s Federal Relief Commission.The International Committee of the Red Cross, in a report last Oct. 28, said a steady stream of injured victims continues to arrive at medical facilities. “Infected fractures are the most frequent problem and medics are fighting to save limbs and lives,” said the Red Cross. “The world’s failure to come up with immediate funds to assist hundred of thousands of Pakistani quake survivors before winter sets in left relief officials on the ground baffled and upset,” the CWS office in Pakistan/Afghanistan said in its report to ACT.But it added that “a major concern all organizations involved in the relief efforts face is the government’s ban on the supply of tents to anyone but the government itself … as all (those) involved in the relief operations have commitments to the communities and would like to ensure that shelter reaches those who are most in need in the remotest parts of the affected areas.” The Red Cross said that relief operations are carried out largely by helicopters, and weather conditions have been a major concern. Snow, accompanied by fog and mist, is also a problem.Meanwhile, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has approved a joint application by PWRDF and five other church relief agencies for matching funds for the response to the earthquake-stricken areas of Pakistan and India. The application for a matching grant of $750,000 will provide 54,000 earthquake survivors with blankets, winterized tents, clothing and kitchen utensils. PWRDF filed the application along with the United Church of Canada, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Christian Reformed Church and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. CIDA matched funds raised by eligible groups between Oct. 8 and Oct. 26. PWRDF has reported donations of $146,000 to CIDA as of Nov. 9, said financial manager Jill Martin. “This is largely made up of reports from churches and dioceses,” she said, explaining that the figure may change since “the actual cheques are still in transit.”In another development, Canadian Anglicans donated a total of $174,767 as of Nov. 9 to PWRDF for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast states in late August. PWRDF has forwarded $84, 930 to Church World Service. Of that amount, $40,000 will go to PWRDF’s sister development organization, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), run by the Episcopal Church in the United States. Earlier, PWRDF sent an initial grant of $20,000 for relief efforts. ERD is working in tandem with Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) to help relocate evacuees; it is also providing technical assistance to dioceses that are supporting displaced people through congregations and communities.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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