UNICEF and partners deliver critical aid amidst harsh Pakistani winter

Helicopters carry supplies to remote villages

By Shandana Aurangzeb Durrani

KOHISTAN DISTRICT, Pakistan, 18 February 2011 – United Nations helicopters quickly load UNICEF supplies – including children’s clothes and shoes, blankets, newborn kits and nutritional supplements – from the Pattan warehouse facility in Kohistan, one of the most flood-ravaged districts in Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Anja Baron reports on the delivery of critical supplies to flood-affected families amidst harsh winter conditions in Pakistan. Watch in RealPlayer

The supplies are to be delivered to vulnerable families in Karang Khas, a small village tucked deep in a valley in the Hindukush mountain range. Flash flooding and landslides have destroyed miles of roads and bridges in the remote and extremely conservative Kohistan District – making Karang Khas and many other areas inaccessible by land.

Helicopters carrying critical supplies have been the only lifeline for families in these areas for the past six months.

© UNICEF video
UNICEF and its partners have distributed essential health and nutrition supplies to flood-affected families in northern Pakistan, but reaching everyone in need remains a challenge.

“All bridges in the valley were washed away during the July 2010 floods, and people were stranded on mountain tops,” notes UNICEF Logistics Officer Ali Zulqarnain. “We are sending supplies through helicopter services. So far four metric tonnes of supplies have been distributed in inaccessible, snowbound areas of Kohistan.”

Dire situation

The harsh winter has added to the miseries of the beleaguered families living in the area, especially women and children, as even walking tracks are covered with snow.

“There is no road, no food rations except what is delivered by the helicopters, no medicine, nothing,” says Bujari Sirajuddun, a mother of 11 in Karang Khas. “Our women and children are getting weak and suffering from illnesses. When we are ill, all we can do is pray,” she adds tearfully.

Ghulam Muhammad, 16, a boy from the same village, faces a dire situation as well. He rushes towards the helicopter as it lands to deliver UNICEF supplies.

© UNICEF video
Harsh winter conditions have added to the miseries of flood-affected children and families in northern Pakistan.

“Please take my mother. She is very ill and needs medical aid,” Ghulam pleads with the crew. Unfortunately, it is not possible; the helicopter has to deliver food rations to another inaccessible village in the area.

Support from partners

“This region has been already affected by earthquake, and now floods and a difficult winter period,” says UNICEF Emergency Coordinator  Lucio Melandri during the distribution of winter supplies to vulnerable families in Karang Khas. “Snowfall and very cold conditions have made life difficult for women and children in this region.”

With the support of other UN agencies, government counterparts and local non-governmental organizations, UNICEF has been able to distribute essential health and nutrition supplies to over 1,000 families in the area, but reaching everyone in need remains a challenge. In the flood-affected areas of north-western Pakistan, nearly 230,000 people – including 145,000 children and over 41,000 women – are inaccessible by road due to the damaged infrastructure and heavy snowfalls.



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