Relief work to continue, says foreign secretary


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan assured Nepal on Sunday of continuing its relief operation for people affected by the devastating earthquake last week.

`Pakistan under special directives from Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif stands shoulder to shoulder with their Nepalese brothers and sisters in this hour of need, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said.

Addressing a press conference at the Foreign Office, he said Pakistan was the first country to respond to the situation as it sent relief and rescue teams to Nepal soon after the quake hit the Himalayan country and was actively continuing its relief operation to-date.

Ambassador to Nepal Bharat Raj Paudyal, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chief Maj Gen Asghar Nawaz and representatives from Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force were present. The press conference was held to explain the relief and rescue operation being conducted by Pakistan with the cooperation of the Foreign Office, the NDMA, Pakistan Army and PAF under the directions of the prime minister.

The foreign secretary said Nepal`s Embassy in Islamabad had been playing an effective role in coordinating the relief efforts.

He said that 20,000 tents and food were being dispatched to Nepal for immediate distribution among people. He said more than 200,000 people could be accommodated in these tents.

He said the first relief consignment comprising four C-130 planes containing food, medicine and tents had been dispatched a day after the quake struck Nepal.

He said a 30-bed mobile hospital with 50 doctors, and a 38-member Pakistan Army`s search team, along with trained dogs were also sent to Kathmandu immediately. Two more C-130s loaded with food, tents, medicines and other items were also sent to Nepal. He assured that more supplies would be sent according to the need and requirements by the Nepal government.

The NDMA chairman said there would be no shortage of funds for the relief operation. He said the government had so far allocated three four million dollars but there was `blanket approval` from the government to continue the relief operation as required and demanded by the Nepal government.

Ambassador Paudyal appreciating the noble gesture of Pakistan said the number of Nepalese affected by the 7.9 magnitude earthquake could be around 8 million and the death toll could increase to 10,000. He said 3.5m Nepalese needed immediate relief assistance.

He thanked the Pakistani government for its immediate response to help earthquake victims.

Answering a question, the ambassador said, `We need tents, food, medicine immediatelyí.

He said 35 districts had badly been hit by the earthquake that had also left 14,000 people injured. He said 41,000 houses had been destroyed while 150,000 partly damaged.

NEPAL ARMY CHIEF: Nepal Army Chief Gen Gaurav SJB Rana expressed on Sunday gratitude for the support extended by Pakistan and Pakistan Army after the earthquake struck his country.

He expressed these views during a visit to the Pakistan Army Field Hospital. He met Pakistani relief workers and appreciated their efforts to provide solace to the earthquake victims.

He said Pakistan would be remembered by the people of Kathmandu because doctors from Pakistan Army were present around the clock and they came with ample stock of medicines.

Pakistan Army`s field hospital at Bhal

Last week, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator along with Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, also visited the Pakistan Army`s field hospital in Bhaktapur. They praised the well-equipped Held facility and rescue and relief efforts carried out by Pakistan Army, doctors and Urban Search & Rescue team.-APP

Published in Dawn