Nearly 900 people were killed and some 40 injured when a 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit Punjab province in Pakistan on 24 September.
More than 450 houses were partially or totally destroyed.
“People didn’t feel safe after the earthquake. They refused to sleep in their homes, even if they weren’t damaged, and slept in tents. Parents no longer dared send their children to school. Many empty houses were burgled, which made people feel even more unsafe,"
says Sumaira Bibi, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for HI in Pakistan.
HI assessed the situation in Mirpur in late September to identify the priority needs of victims. Many need to access safe drinking water, sanitation and housing. Although 3,500 tents have been distributed by humanitarian organisations, worryingly they do not provide enough protection from the cold. Many suffer from psychological distress and require support, while others injured in the earthquake need access to rehabilitation care.
HI provides small sums of money to highly vulnerable people, such as single women and people with disabilities, who are unable to do small-scale paid work. They also need to take part in awareness campaigns on the risks of natural disasters and HI’s protection activities, which include taking into account the post-disaster needs of the most vulnerable people.
HI also provides rehabilitation care, walking frames, wheelchairs, etc., and psychosocial support to those in need at Mirpur Hospital and in the community.
The organisation provides safe spaces for children where they benefit from psychosocial support and take part in recreational activities. As parents are afraid to let their children go back to school, these spaces recreate a link between families and schools.
Lastly, HI raises awareness of the risks of natural disasters and the need to protect the most vulnerable people, including by broadcasting radio messages and handing out information in villages affected by the earthquake.