Reaching quake-affected children with essential winter supplies
By Kitty Logan
MACHIARA, Pakistan, 9 January 2006 – The New Year has brought heavy snow to Pakistan’s quake-affected region, leaving many villages cut off and aid flights grounded. Many quake survivors, among them thousands of children, do not have adequate clothing to shield them from the freezing temperatures. In a race against time, UNICEF and partners have been rushing out winter supplies for children and families.
“There are still so many villages high in the mountains that remain to be reached,” said Munir Safieldin, who is in charge of UNICEF’s operations in the city of Muzaffarabad. “So far we have been flying supplies into these areas but we are talking about thousands of villages. This is not a small operation. We still need to keep pushing to reach the remaining villages on the tops of the hills.”
In the village of Machiara along the Neelum Valley – where the nearest town is a two day walk away – the landing of the first helicopter after the recent storm brought joy to everyone. The helicopter delivered a cargo of winter essentials from UNICEF, including jackets and warm boots.
Complex delivery operation
Jalaila, 12, has lived in Machiara all her life. Clutching a pack of winter supplies which she had just received, Jalaila crossed a stream by stepping carefully on a plank and made her way towards home. She is used to the hardships of winter, but this year is different. “We used to live well before the earthquake, but it has become very difficult to live here. It’s very cold in the tent and it’s difficult to manage,” said Jalaila.
The delivery of winter clothing has proven to be a complicated operation. People here live across a vast area – from deep valleys to high mountain tops. To make sure that no one who needs aid misses out, the Pakistan army is out in force, surveying the area and listing all those who need help.
As long as the skies stay clear, UNICEF and partners will keep flying in supplies every day. The aim is to provide every family with heavy quilts and every child with winter clothing. But the threat of bad weather will persist for the next several months, and will continue to pose a threat to supply deliveries and to the lives of children and families in remote areas.