Pakistan

Pakistani villagers snowed in for weeks receive UNICEF aid

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/Zaidi
Villagers of Dounga Gali, Pakistan, unload a tent.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, 4 March 2005 - People living in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan (NWFP) prepare for a 15-20 day ‘siege’ when the snow falls each year, but this winter they’ve been snowed in for four weeks with the worst weather conditions in forty years.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/Zaidi
While the UNICEF mission is on the way to rain and snow affected areas in Pakistan, a bulldozer clears the road for the first time in four weeks.

UNICEF vehicles carrying first aid have now reached the communities of Nathiagali and Dounga Gali, perched at about 7000 feet in the high valleys of the range fronting the Kashmir border. Snow was still sitting 12-15 feet high when the relief workers drove past,  and they were only able to do so after bulldozers had cleared the roads.

Everyone in the villages complained of hunger.  The foodshops had run out of pulses, flour, oil and rice and only a few shrivelled vegetables were available. People were taken totally by surprise by the severity and longevity of this winter's weather.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/Zaidi
Mehtab and Aftab wait for the van to go back home after receiving UNICEF relief goods in Dounga Gali, Pakistan.

UNICEF distributed supplies to needy families, who were identified by the community: tents for those whose houses have collapsed under the weight of snow; blankets, sweaters and soap; high energy biscuits for children under five,  and drugs for the hospital at Nathiagali.

The weather was closing down again as UNICEF relief workers left and  the prospects did not look good for getting the region's 47 link roads open to outlying villages which are still cut off.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/Zaidi
Women carrying water in Nathiagali, Pakistan. Overground pipes are frozen so they have to walk to the spring.

The delivery of aid was particularly poignant because 1 March was the first day of the new school term in Pakistan, as well as the launch date of the 2005 National Immunization Days (NIDs) program.  The children of these mountain valleys will have to wait, due to the  harsh weather.


 

 

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