Christian Groups Scramble Aid Operations in Wake of Pakistan Earthquake

Numerous Christian groups have been busy scrambling together emergency aid responses to help thousands of homeless and injured survivors of Saturday’s devastating earthquake in Pakistan which has killed more than 20,000.

|PIC1|Christian Aid yesterday pledged an initial £50,000 to aid emergency efforts across the devastated regions which also span across parts of India and Afghanistan.

“Christian Aid does not work in Pakistan but the scale of this disaster is so big that we simply must respond in some way,” said Christian Aid’s director, Dr Daleep Mukarji. “We have made this money available to our sister agencies, including Church World Service, who are already bringing survival kits and blankets to 15,000 families.

“If, as we expect, they require more money as they expand their operation, we will respond immediately.”

Dr Mukarji reported that it was too early on to know the extent of the damage in India and Afghanistan: “We are keeping a close eye on the situation. The areas affected are remote and information is bound to be slow in getting through. We are ready to respond if and when required.”

Kennedy Dhanabala, co-ordinator of the earthquake response for Tearfund partner Eficor said that food, blankets and warm clothes were where the immediate needs lay.

Tearfund’s International Regions Director, Ian Wallace, said: “Our hearts go out to the many thousands of affected people. Our first step on hearing the news was to confirm that all our partners and staff in region.

|QUOTE|“Then we immediately made emergency funds available to our partners. We will refine our response by the day as more news comes from the region and the situation becomes clearer,” he said.

Tearfund hopes to deploy a team of doctors and nurses as well as rally student volunteers to support local emergency aid efforts in the worst-affected villages and towns. Several of Tearfund’s partners will also assess the scale of the need over the coming days.

Mr Wallace said: “This was a major earthquake. The tremors were even felt by our staff in Kabul, Afghanistan. We would ask for prayers for those affected and for the huge aid effort that is now underway.”

Gospel For Asia reported that its Bible college in Jammu was severely damaged to the point of being unusable. GFA’s President, K.P. Yohannan, reported that all their missionaries in the area were safe but they were still unaware of the condition of their churches or believers.

|TOP|“In the meantime, please pray for the survivors of this tragedy, for our missionaries and students, for the pastors and their people, and for those who will soon be ministering to the victims,” appealed Mr Yohannan.

Aid efforts to Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state in India, have been hampered by the country’s military control.

“As soon as there is an opening into these hardest-hit areas, we will be ready to send a couple hundred people to do relief work,” said Yohannan. “In the meantime, we will do what we can in Jammu.”

An initial $50,000 USD has also been committed to relief efforts by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which is already conducting assessments in critically-affected areas on both sides of the Pakistan and India border, reports Assist News Service.

CRS is working in partnership with local military and government officials as well as Islamic Relief and Oxfam UK.

“Access to the region is difficult, as the area of the epicentre is extremely mountainous, with narrow roads often blocked by slides,” said CRS Pakistan Country Representative Jack Norman.

CRS Pakistan has already taken part in two out of three joint NGO assessment missions of the earthquake-struck regions.