Aid to Pakistan: Major Push Planned Despite Obstacles

ACF plans large-scale distributions of food, essential items as winter threatens efforts

The international aid organization Action Against Hunger (also known as Action contre la Faim or ACF) has increased its aid to those affected by the earthquake in Pakistan. The organization has already distributed 2.5 metric tons of food, and it will begin major distributions of shelter items (tents, blankets) in conjunction with UNICEF. It will also distribute additional food, food vouchers, and hygiene kits (soap, toothpaste) to more than 33,000 people in the hard-hit and difficult-to-access areas surrounding Battagram and Bala Kot.

However, the needs of beneficiaries are becoming even more urgent as winter approaches and logistics become more difficult. Aftershocks rocked the country during the night of October 18, impeding aid delivery because of additional landslides and structural damage. In addition, as thousands of Pakistanis are still without shelter, the threat of disease is growing. Already, reports of gangrene and intestinal infections are multiplying at field hospitals.

We have a window of about one month to provide as much shelter and support as possible to these people. After that, there's no telling how high the death toll will rise. — Cathy Skoula, ACF Executive Director

ACF, which had been operational in Pakistan until 2004, re-entered the country two weeks ago immediately following the 7.6 earthquake that has left much of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir in ruins. After a rapid needs assessment by Action Against Hunger experts, the organization is focusing on providing aid to some of the most difficult-to-reach and hardest-hit regions of the country. ACF is also working with the UN and other non-governmental organizations on the ground to coordinate the assessment and treatment of nutrition, water, sanitation, and shelter needs, as well as the logistics of aid administration.