A convoy of trucks carrying 39 metric tons of WFP high energy biscuits arrived today in the Pakistan city of Abbottabad, delivering desperately needed food to survivors of last Saturday’s earthquake, which killed at least 20,000 and left hundreds of thousands more destitute and without shelter.
On arrival in Abbottabad, some 50 km southwest of the earthquake epicentre, WFP immediately began distributions of the highly nutritious biscuits, which need no cooking or preparation, with the help of the International Rescue Committee.
The four-truck convoy had left the capital, Islamabad, at dawn. A second convoy, carrying a further 40 tons, is due to leave later today for Muzaffarabad, the city hardest hit by the quake.
“We are doing all we can to get this food where it is needed most as fast as possible,” said German Valdivia, WFP Representative in Pakistan.
“It will be enough for 400,000 people – many of whom have been without food or shelter since the quake struck – for the next two days, by which time we should have established a proper supply line.”
We will be providing one million people with ready-to-eat food over the next month
German Valdivia, WFP Representative in Pakistan
The first two of 10 helicopters to assist the relief operation are due to arrive in Pakistan today, enabling rescue and aid workers to reach the most remote areas which have been cut off by landslides.
Relief efforts are being further hampered by heavy rain, bringing the danger of more damage to roads and bridges.
WFP will be setting up five UN base camps in the hardest hit locations to co-ordinate the relief operation, with inter-agency telecommunications and logistical support.
WFP has also flown in emergency response teams to Pakistan from around the world to help with the operation.
“The situation is increasingly desperate. Many areas have no safe water or electricity and food supplies are extremely limited, especially as most people have no means to cook. They are living out in the open in the mountains – and it is extremely cold,” Valdivia said.
“We will be providing one million people with ready-to-eat food over the next month.”
The high energy biscuits were flown by WFP to Pakistan on Tuesday from its humanitarian depot in Brindisi, Italy. The plane arrived in Islamabad late last night and the cargo was immediately offloaded.
A second planeload of biscuits is due to leave Brindisi on Friday and in the meantime 40 tons of dates, donated by Qatar, are being transported from Quetta, in the west of Pakistan.
The earthquake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale, wiped out towns and villages across northern Pakistan and also affected Indian-administered Kashmir and parts of Afghanistan.
Worst hit, however, were five districts in north-eastern Pakistan, near the line of control that divides Pakistani- and Indian-administered Kashmir.