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Lethal cold threatens Pakistan quake survivors: Oxfam
ISLAMABAD (AFP) Dec 23, 2005
Thousands of Pakistan's quake survivors are caught in a desperate struggle for survival in the Himalayan cold and need urgent help, an international aid group said Friday.

"The falling temperatures could be lethal," British-based Oxfam director Barbara Stocking told a news conference after a tour of areas ravaged by the October 8 earthquake in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and northwestern province.

The warning came three months after the country's worst natural disaster that killed more than 73,000 people and left an estimated 3.5 million homeless.

Around 1,000 US troops and NATO units have been helping Pakistan in relief and rehabilitation efforts of survivors, shuttling supplies by helicopter and treating the injured at field hospitals.

Stocking called for an enhanced international response to the United Nation appeal for around 550 million dollars, launched in November, which had so far brought in only 40 percent of the needed funds.

Children are falling sick in the freezing temperatures suffering from respiratory ailments while heating has been a problem because of the risk of tent fire, Stocking said.

She said Oxfam had provided shelter to 127,000 people and improved water and sanitation conditions for some 150,000.

"There is so much more that needs to be done urgently. We need to improve conditions in the spontaneous camps and reach those who have stayed further up the mountain," she said.

Oxfam urged the international community to honour its pledges and deliver resources to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe.

Pakistan has received aid pledges of more than six billion dollars, of which two billion dollars is in the form of grants.

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