Saturday’s earthquake which struck the region bordering Pakistan and India has devastated the lives of millions of people and forced the world to mobilize yet another massive emergency relief operation. Yet the region’s worst earthquake in more than 100 years may have more lingering affects than the 140 aftershocks recorded in the region. In this rugged, mountainous region of the Himalayas winter is coming…and soon. With more than two million people reported homeless, finding shelter from the impending cold gives an added urgency to an already dire situation.
Lutheran World Relief is accepting donations to bolster its overall response to the calamity through the global network of church-related humanitarian organizations, Action by Churches Together. “We’ve sent an immediate $20,000, for initial funding for relief items,” commented Kathryn Wolford, president of LWR. “The situation in north India and in Pakistan is dire, to be sure,” she said, “and LWR will take as big a role as possible in the ACT appeal, as our faithful supporters learn more about the tragedy and respond.” The ACT appeal is currently set at $7,900,000.
LWR is working with partners on the ground with years of experience in the region, allowing the highly rated organization to have an immediate impact. “Our partners began relief work immediately and this is the fastest and most efficient way to help,” said Tim McCully, LWR vice president for international programming. “We can assume an immediate and active role in funding our partner that is already there – Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS P/A). We’ll be addressing the priority needs listed by the government of Pakistan that include winterized tents, plastic sheets, blankets, mattresses, heating equipment, pre-cooked canned food, water purification kits and various first aid and medical supplies,” McCully continued. “While search and rescue work continues, it’s vitally important to also begin looking to people’s needs in these areas.”
The death toll from Saturday’s earthquake continues to climb as rescue workers make their way into remote regions cut off by broken and blocked bridges and now hampered by heavy rainfalls, hail storms, mud and land slides, and dropping temperatures. Estimates of fatalities now top 30,000 in Pakistan alone, including total loss of life in some remote villages where no survivors are reported. India is reporting a death toll of close to 1,000 as of Tuesday.
“Remoteness has added to the limited information and exact scale of the disaster,” adds LWR’s McCully, “but this is one of the world’s worst earthquakes, certainly in decades, in terms of loss of life. This will take a major international response, and will undoubtedly require months and years to address the immense needs of more than two million now-homeless survivors. Physical relief, shelter, reconstruction and psychological support will be long term issues.”
People wanting to help are urged to send financial contributions, as most of the needed relief supplies and materials can be bought more efficiently in the region. “It’s tempting,” says Steve Bruno, LWR’s material resources manager, “for supporters of an organization like LWR to want to increase the number of quilts and blankets and clothing as a response to this disaster.” Bruno says that people must understand the immense cost in getting tons of material aid into a hard-to-access region such as Pakistan, not to mention the time it takes. Financial support of LWR’s response to the earthquake allows LWR and its partners to buy what they need as close to where it’s needed. This minimizes the time it takes to get aid to survivors, and helps stimulate the economy that many times has also been devastated.
To support LWR’s efforts give online at www.lwr.org or call 1-800-LWR-LWR-2 or mail a donation to:
Lutheran World Relief
South Asia Earthquake
P.O. Box 17061
Baltimore, MD 21298-9832
WHO IS LWR? Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Lutheran World Relief (LWR) has been responding to emergencies and disasters since its founding in 1945. Working through partners and global relief and development networks, LWR works in 50 countries to provide not only relief but to combat the causes of poverty and restore the dignity it robs from people’s lives. We advocate for fair trade that helps farming families earn a better income. We teach people to better care for themselves, their communities and the environment. We teach people how to be less vulnerable to natural disasters. We advocate with them for policy change that more fairly represents them. We counsel them after human and natural disasters, and help them recover with material aid and long-term programs. We do all of this exclusively with partners from the communities we serve.
LWR is supported by the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, LCMS World Relief, individuals and parish groups.
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