Caritas Pakistan aids Baluchistan quake victims
Immediately after the earthquake, a Caritas team led by the diocesan coordinator for disasters and calamities, Nisar Mushtaq, reached the area and verified the situation first-hand.
The Catholic Aid organization, Caritas Pakistan, has been active in the Baluchistan province hit by a devastating 7.7 magnitude earthquake with epicentre in the district of Awaranon September 24.
"The situation in the area is still very critical. I have 515 confirmed dead, about 400 injured and the number of people affected is around 300 thousand,” said Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan.
According to local witnesses the distribution of basic necessities is slow. Thousands of people are still waiting for help, living outdoors. And supplies are limited because of the volatile security situation and the difficulties in transportation, he added.
Immediately after the earthquake, the leaders of Caritas Pakistan began working to collaborate to rescue the victims. A Caritas team led by the diocesan coordinator for disasters and calamities, Nisar Mushtaq, reached the area and verified the situation first-hand. Any information collected is channelled to Caritas Internationalis, to give life to medium-term aid projects that will really help the population.
"We approached the government authorities and volunteers in the area to gather information on the damage and loss of life," said Gulzar. Caritas Pakistan has nurtured excellent relations with the authorities and civilian population, an overwhelming Muslim majority.
Gulzar said that the Christian attacks recently in Peshawar and earlier in Joseph Colony in Lahore has created a lot of distrust between Pakistani Christians and the majority community and it would take time for things to get back to normal.
“However, Caritas Pakistan continues to operate to aid all citizens and is appealing to Catholics around the world and the international community to sustain us in this work to assist victims of the earthquake in need of assistance," he said.
Balochistan is the largest of the Pakistani provinces but, at the same time, the least inhabited because of the roughness of the region, often the scene of earthquakes. The area has been brought to its knees by serious natural disasters and separatist guerrillas.
The area affected by the earthquake was on Thursday the scene of battles between separatist rebels of Baluchistan and Islamabad troops, with rebels targeting symbols of the state – development projects and infrastructure. A military source reported gunfire on a convoy transporting doctors to the earthquake area, but there is no independent confirmation about the attack that caused no injuries.