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. Ten Years Needed To Recover From Pakistan Quake

File photo: A Pakistani village on the Kashmir border, destroyed by last year's earthquake. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Islamabad (AFP) Sep 21, 2006
Pakistan will need at least 10 years to fully recover from the damage wrought by last year's devastating earthquake, a top United Nations official warned Thursday. The 7.6-magnitude quake on October 8, 2005 ripped through northwest Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir, killing 73,000 people and completely destroying homes, schools, hospitals and businesses.

"The recovery in Pakistan will not be done this year, it will not be done next year, it will not be done five years from now," said Kathleen Cravero, the UN Development Programme's global director for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

"After a catastrophe like this full recovery takes 10 years," she told a news conference in Islamabad.

Cravero said she was impressed by the efforts of the Pakistani people and the government to recover from the quake, which initially left more than three million people homeless.

The New York-based official said she was "struck by the progress that has been made" when she visited the obliterated town of Balakot and other parts of the disaster zone this week.

But the world should not be allowed to forget that there were still major challenges ahead, she said.

These included providing permanent shelter for people, reestablishing their livelihoods and rebuilding water, health and electricity systems in the affected area, she said.

Around 33,000 quake victims were still living in tents almost a year after the earthquake, UN Resident Coordinator Jan Vandemoortele said.

A further 20,000 to 30,000 people were expected to come down to major cities from the mountains looking for shelter over the winter, but the United Nations and other agencies were prepared for the influx, he said.

A small number of helicopters would also be made available during the winters to get supplies to remote areas and evacuate medical emergency cases, he added.

As they spoke around 150 people marched barefoot through Muzaffarabad, the devastated capital of Pakistani Kashmir, to protest against alleged corruption by the government and by aid agencies.

They were also demonstrating against the employment of women by nongovernmental organisations in the conservative region, an issue which has caused friction previously.

The rally was led by the separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and a student group. Some protesters scrawled slogans on the ground criticising the government's Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority.

"They have failed to carry out reconstruction and rehabilitation and to resolve the affectees genuine problems even after a year," the front's central media coordinator Zulfiqar Beg said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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