Radio Hotline providing assistance to quake survivors

Several days of heavy snow and rain that have badly hampered aid distributions in earthquake-affected Pakistan and grounded helicopters since 15 January, are also causing continued misery for survivors.
In a bid to provide extra support for quake survivors during the inclement weather, International Organization of Migrants has enlisted 100 volunteers to staff Rapid Response Teams in Muzaffarabad to answer calls for urgent assistance.
Through round-the-clock announcements on Power99 FM and Azad Kashmir Radio, IOM received more than 250 ‘hotline’ emergency calls on Sunday alone in Muzaffarabad. The 10 teams deployed erected collapsed tents, provided 700 tarpaulins to cover the tents and replaced wet blankets, according to a press release.

Other international relief organizations are now also implementing the idea of rapid response teams in other humanitarian hubs set up across the quake zone. IOM also assisted five teams from the Muzaffarabad Municipal Water and Sanitation Department by providing 500 tarpaulins, generators, suction pumps, motors and pipes to drain rainwater from spontaneous and unplanned tent settlements.
Today, IOM will be distributing 2000 winterized kits supplied by Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Muzaffarabad city to add to the 400 shelter kits, 450 blankets and 600 jerry cans handed out in the last two days in Merasaru, Gohri and Machiara union councils. The kits contain blankets, tarpaulins, plastic sheets and rope to provide extra protection for those living in non-winterized tents.
Through the IOM-initiated Kala Dhaka Coordination Council – and with data collected from the Pakistan government rapid assessments – 170,000 people from the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Kala Dhaka are beginning to receive large amounts of shelter equipment.
Assisted by NGO Partner Aid International, IOM has delivered a total of 15,000 blankets, 1000 shelter kits, 7,600 corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets and 2,800 children kits of hats, coats, mittens and scarves to Kala Dhaka. In the next two weeks, IOM will coordinate the distribution of a large UNICEF consignment of 242,000 blankets, 170,000 children kits, and 9,000 quilts to Kala Dhaka.
Meanwhile, despite the bad weather and landslides and several previous attempts, nine 9 IOM heavy trucks carrying CGI sheets and other non-food items have finally managed to get through to Bana in the Allai valley, where shelter assistance is still needed.
Elsewhere in Batagram district, a local NGO, Sangi, is today distributing another 1,800 shelter kits, 180 sleeping bags, 350 blankets and 2,000 winter jackets provided by IOM in Shamlai.
The deteriorating winter conditions are adding to the trauma of earthquake survivors. To help people mentally cope, IOM and the Pakistan Ministry of Health (MoH) jointly held a two-day workshop for psychosocial support workers at H-11 camp near Islamabad.
Psychiatrist William H. McGhee from the Loma Linda University in California and Professor Rizwan Taj from the MoH, trained 40 IOM mental health team members, social workers, teachers and doctors who are providing post-earthquake treatment.
IOM Mental Health field teams are working in Dheerkot in Bagh, Maira camp in Batagram, and in H-11 camp in Islamabad. Out of a total of 4186 people visited, 617 (14.7 percent) were diagnosed as patients in need of care. Women and children have higher levels of depression and anxiety and remain a focus for outreach and treatment. Last week’s Eid ul Adha holiday was particularly difficult for some survivors.
“Holidays are a problem after a disaster,” says IOM Batagram psychologist, Falik Niaz. “I saw many people in the hospital wards weeping during Eid ul Fitr a month after the earthquake. This holiday was a bit better for people, but depression is common when families gather together and many members are noticeably missing.”

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