Palas Valley earthquake update and appeal
Since the earthquake which struck South Asia on 8 October, the staff of BirdLife's Palas Valley Project have been focused on bringing emergency relief to the people of the valley. So far, five helicopter flights, courtesy of the Pakistan Army, the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the USA Military have helped to deliver food, shelter and medical assistance to those most in need.
However, the need for assistance in the valley is enormous. Due to destruction and damage to houses, and the continuing danger from aftershocks, virtually the entire population of the valley – some 50,000 people - is sleeping and living in the open. Once the aftershocks subside, it is estimated that the homes of up to 30,000 people are damaged to the extent that they will be uninhabitable. Many of these villages are located above the snow line, where temperatures will remain below freezing day and night for the next four months of winter. With the approaching winter it is essential that these people are provided with shelter, blankets and warm clothes.
There are also many sick and wounded requiring medical attention. Therefore another urgent priority is to establish a medical centre in the valley to treat these people.
30,000 residents of the Palas Valley are thought to have lost their homes in the earthquake, and much of the valley's infrastructure has been destroyed
The earthquake destroyed grain stores and killed large numbers of livestock – the basis of the valley’s economy and the nutritional staples of the Palasi people. Providing emergency food aid until farmers are able to restore their flocks and until the next harvest is also critical.
In the longer-term, much of the valley’s infrastructure has been destroyed – in particular the mule paths that provide the access to the remote settlements in the valley and which cling to the precipitous mountain sides have been blocked or destroyed by rock falls. Clearing these trails is an essential part of the reconstruction process, allowing aid in, and enabling the Palasi people to access towns outside the valley, for medical attention and for trade.