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Caritas awaits clearance for quake relief efforts in Pakistan

Twin earthquakes killed 50 in impoverished Balochistan and damaged more than 2,500 homes

Caritas awaits clearance for quake relief efforts in Pakistan

Caritas Pakistan members with paramilitary Frontier Corps in Harnai, the area worst affected by twin quakes in Balochistan province. (Photo supplied)

Caritas Pakistan is coordinating with Balochistan’s government for relief efforts after twin earthquakes killed 50 people in the northwest of the country.

A 4.5-magnitude quake jolted several districts of Balochistan on Oct. 10, three days after a 5.9-magnitude quake with a depth of 15 kilometers rocked the mountainous region. More than 2,500 houses, mostly made of sun-baked mud, have been damaged. 

Sarfraz Masih, a father of four, has lost half of his house.

“We don’t want to sleep inside. We lived under the open sky until the tents arrived,” he told UCA News.

“My children, including a two-year-old son, were buried under the mud wall that collapsed in the first quake. I jumped and tried to cover them. The bricks injured my back. I couldn’t find one of my daughters for several minutes.”

Salesian Father Samuel Adnan and Khalil George, parliamentary secretary for minority affairs, handed over relief items to 75 Christians and Hindus on Oct. 10 in Harnai, the area worst affected by the quakes. The city has 35 houses of Christians, most of them poor sanitary workers.

Plastic sheets and winterized tents are needed as nights are getting colder

Caritas Pakistan is among five humanitarian organizations that have applied for no-objection certificates to carry out relief work.

Caritas staff and volunteers visited quake survivors, including Masih, and the deputy commissioner’s office on Oct. 9.

“The terrain has streams and narrow mud roads. We had to go through seven security checks. The paramilitary Frontier Corps accompanied us. Plastic sheets and winterized tents are needed as nights are getting colder,” said Sharafat Shareef, executive secretary of Caritas Quetta. 

Impoverished Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province and has been wracked by violence perpetuated by Islamist militants and separatists. Tribal groups have been demanding political autonomy and a share in the revenues from the area´s resources, most of which go to the federal government.

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Despite the challenges, Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan, has committed to a “maximum response” in the wake of the deadly quakes.

“The teams from the national secretariat are coordinating with staff in the Apostolic Vicariate of Quetta to gather data and reach out to those in need. We are reviewing the situation and coordinating with local authorities to rebuild the affected areas,” he said.  

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