IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Quake survivors complain of lingering neglect

Survivors of the devastating Oct. 8 earthquake in Pakistan are complaining they have been neglected by the government and do not have the money to resume normal lives.
Pakistani Kashmiri earthquake survivors
Pakistani earthquake survivors clear away their collapsed house in Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, on Saturday. Sajjad Qayyum / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Rahmat Ali has been living in a tent with his widowed daughter and three grandchildren since a devastating quake six months ago flattened buildings and left about 80,000 dead.

The 7.6-magnitude quake on Oct. 8 left over 3 million homeless. Some 200,000 went into camps while the rest sheltered in tents or tin-roofed shacks across northwest Pakistan.

Ali, 62, like other survivors here half a year after the disaster, complained he has been neglected by the government and does not have the money to resume a normal life.

“I don’t have money to go back ... and rebuild my home,” Ali said as he sat outside a tent with his widowed daughter in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan’s portion of Kashmir.

Helped by an Islamic charity, Ali arrived here with three grandchildren and his daughter, who lost her husband when the roof of their home caved in.

Javed Aqib, 23, said from a nearby tent that the government and charities have scaled down relief, making it difficult to get free food for his family.

“After the quake, many people came and gave us a lot of food, but now we have to struggle to get it,” he said.

Aqib says he will rebuild his home and leave the day he gets financial help promised by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Leaders pledge more aid
Musharraf laid the foundation stone for a new school Saturday in the quake-devastated northwestern town of Mansehra and promised the government will provide the money for people to rebuild.

“Let me assure you that there is no shortage of funds. You will get enough money to rebuild homes,” he told survivors.

Officials say they will begin distributing money starting April 17.

“No one whose home was destroyed by the quake will remain homeless,” Altaf Saleem, chairman of the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority, told survivors here Friday.

The cost of rebuilding housing in Kashmir and other parts of Pakistan is expected to exceed $2 billion.

The United Nations said relief efforts prevented a second wave of deaths after the quake. “No epidemics broke out,” U.N. relief coordinator Jan Vandemoortele said in Islamabad.

He cautioned “many survivors could face another difficult situation next winter.”

“It will be a long haul before the affected people can return to their normal lives,” he said.