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ICRC wants to speed up aid to Pakistan

ICRC President Kellenberger says 50,000 people in Pakistan received aid after the tremor


The Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has pledged to increase aid supplies to 200,000 people in earthquake-stricken Pakistan.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said the victims needed urgent help before the onset of winter in the region.

Kellenberger, who returned from a three-day fact-finding mission to Pakistan, said it was essential to make full use of the coming weeks.

"The priority is to provide assistance to the people so they can stay in their homes," Kellenberger said in Geneva on Monday.

He added that snow would make aid operations in remote areas more difficult.

The ICRC has so far delivered 4,000 metric tons of emergency aid, medication, food, water and shelter to 50,000 people in Pakistan's Kashmir region.

It is also planning to set up a field hospital in the city of Muzaffarabad.

More funds, more helicopters

The aid organisation, which has about 200 aid workers in the disaster region, said it would increase the number of helicopters to transport supplies.

Pakistan has become the second-largest aid operation for the ICRC, according to Kellenberger.

The organisation has spent SFr62 million ($47.4 million) on Pakistan this year and pledged to boost the aid budget by more than SFr100 million next year.

Kellenberger said he hoped the ICRC would play a more active role helping victims of natural disasters alongside the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"We intervene more often in such situations in particular if we have the logistical capacity to distribute the aid deliveries," Kellenberger said.

As a rule the ICRC's activities focus on aid in armed conflicts while the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies deal with natural disasters.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The earthquake which struck Pakistan's and India's Kashmir region on October 8 measured 7.5 on the Richter scale.
An estimated 73,000 people have been killed in the tremor, according to Pakistani officials.
About 70,000 people have been injured and 3.3 million people lost their homes.
The Pakistani authorities have been promised $2 billion in aid by the international community, including Switzerland.

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