Order Code RL33196
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
The Earthquake in South Asia:
Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Operations
Updated March 24, 2006
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Specialist in Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
The Earthquake in South Asia: Humanitarian
Assistance and Relief Operations
On October 8, 2005, a powerful earthquake struck northern Pakistan and India,
killing at least 74,000 people and injuring over 70,000 more. The earthquake
damaged the homes of millions of people, forcing more than 2.8 million to search for
alternative means of shelter. The full extent of the destruction is now being revealed
as government authorities and relief organizations are able to access some of the
remote locations. The United States government (USG) has pledged $510 million
toward the relief effort, almost all of it to assisting Pakistan, which remains a key
U.S. ally in the war against terror. Because of the heavy USG military and
development presence in neighboring Afghanistan, the logistics of bringing resources
into Pakistan have been relatively straightforward. The USG, Government of
Pakistan, and NATO, among others, operated daily relief flights to ferry supplies,
personnel, and victims to and from the region.
The earthquake struck a region that lies along the southern reaches of the
Himalayan Mountains. While delivering humanitarian assistance and gaining full
access was critical, one of the main humanitarian priorities early on was ensuring that
the estimated three million people who lost their homes had adequate protection from
winter weather and diseases. Extensive preparation and coordinated relief efforts
helped greatly to mitigate against the impact of winter. Aid agencies continue to
provide much needed assistance and are now planning for the transition from relief
to reconstruction, which is scheduled to take place in April.
A November public poll suggests that the USG’s aid effort has improved
ordinary Pakistanis’ opinions of the United States, although apparent U.S. missile
attacks on Pakistani territory in December 2005 and January 2006, and anger over the
February publication in European newspapers of cartoons deemed offensive to
Muslims, reinvigorated anti-Western and anti-American sentiments among some
segments of the Pakistani populace. Some experts have raised concerns that the
economic burden of the disaster could contribute toward long-term instability in an
area perceived to be of critical importance to the United States in the war on terror.
It remains to be seen what progress is made in the recovery and reconstruction phase
and what impact this may have on public opinion.
Immediately following the disaster, legislative activity included the introduction
of several resolutions expressing sympathy for those affected by the earthquake,
pledging American support for the victims, and lauding the relief efforts of U.S.
personnel. Additional funds were not added to the regular FY2006 Foreign
Operations spending measure for earthquake relief, but the FY2006 supplemental
request proposes $126.3 million for Pakistan earthquake relief. The House-passed
bill fully funds the request for Pakistan earthquake assistance in order to reimburse
funds that were previously reprogrammed to meet emergency needs. A final update
of this report will be completed once the relief operation comes to an end (scheduled
for April 2006) and the recovery phase is officially launched.
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Comparisons to Past Disasters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Relief Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Relief to Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Numbers at a Glance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Coordination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Humanitarian Relief Sectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Recovery and Reconstruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
IDP Returns, Protection, and Camp Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Emergency Shelter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Food Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Water and Sanitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Health and Disease . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Logistics and Telecommunications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
National Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Pakistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Criticism of Government Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Militant Groups Provide Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
U.S. Humanitarian Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Assistance by Source . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
USAID . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
DoD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
State/PRM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
USDA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
NGOs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Private Sector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
FY2006 Supplemental Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Congressional Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
U.S. Response to Other International Natural Disasters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
The U.S. Emergency Response Mechanism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
International Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Donors’ Conference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Flash Appeal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
NATO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Issues for Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
U.S. Image in Pakistan; Effects on War Against Terror . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Burdensharing and Donor Fatigue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Competing Aid and Budget Priorities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
From Relief to Recovery: The Cost of Rebuilding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Transparency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Assessing U.N. Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Appendix A: Maps of Disaster Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Appendix B: U.N. Flash Appeal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
List of Figures
Map 1. The Affected Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Map 2. The Epicenter and Political Boundaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
List of Tables
Deadliest Natural Disasters Since 1900 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Estimated Number of People Affected by the South Asia Earthquake . . 5
USG Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
USG Aid in Past International Natural Disasters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
The Earthquake in South Asia:
Humanitarian Assistance and Relief
A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.6 on the Richter scale struck northern
Pakistan at 8:50 am local time on October 8, 2005. Its epicenter was near the city of
Muzaffarabad, 65 miles north northeast of Islamabad, Pakistan, and near the frontier
with India. The earthquake was felt as far away as New Delhi, India, and Kabul,
Afghanistan.1 The vast majority of the deaths — over 73,000 — occurred in
Pakistan, most of them in the Pakistani-controlled portions of the disputed territory
of Kashmir. The fatality count in India stands at 1,309. Afghanistan registered four
The former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, as it is called in India, or
Azad (“Free”) Jammu and Kashmir, as it is known in Pakistan, has been a source of
contention between India and Pakistan since the two countries gained their
independence from Great Britain in 1947.3 Although the earthquake has led to a
certain amount of rapprochement between New Delhi and Islamabad — including the
United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Earthquake Information Center,
[http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqinthenews/2005/usdyae/], accessed October 20, 2005.
USAID South Asia Earthquake Fact Sheet #29, December 8, 2005.
See CRS Report IB93097, India-U.S. Relations, by (name redacted): “The problem is
rooted in claims by both India and Pakistan to the former princely state, divided since 1948
by a military Line of Control (LOC) separating India’s Jammu and Kashmir and
Pakistan-controlled Azad [Free] Kashmir (India and Pakistan fought full-scale wars over
Kashmir in 1947 and 1965). Some Kashmiris seek independence from both countries.
Spurred by a perception of rigged state elections that unfairly favored pro-New Delhi
candidates in 1989, an ongoing separatist war between Islamic militants and their supporters
and Indian security forces in Indian-held Kashmir has claimed 40,000-90,000 lives. India
blames Pakistan for fanning the rebellion, as well as supplying arms, training, and fighters.
Pakistan, for its part, claims to provide only diplomatic and moral support to what it calls
‘freedom fighters’ who resist Indian rule in the Muslim-majority region.” See also CRS
Issue Brief IB94041, Pakistan-U.S. Relations, by (name redacted); and Haqqani, Husain,
Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, 2005. For a short summary, see BBC, “India and Pakistan: Tense
Neighbors,” December 16, 2001.
Available at [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/]
world/south_asia/ 102201.stm. For recent exchanges between Pakistan and India, see CRS
Report RS21584, Pakistan: Chronology of Recent Events, by (name redacted).
opening of telephone exchanges and previously closed border crossings — its longterm political effects in the region remain to be seen. The domestic significance of
the earthquake within Pakistan and India is taken up in subsequent sections of this
Comparisons to Past Disasters
The full extent of the damage caused by the earthquake in South Asia continues
to unfold, but more in-depth assessments now provide clearer indicators of the
overall disaster. Although its toll in human lives appears to be less than a third of
that of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, current reports indicate that
damage to Pakistan’s economy and infrastructure has been substantial. Table 1
presents a list of the ten deadliest natural disasters of the past century, based
principally on the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) maintained by the World
Health Organization’s (WHO) Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters
(CRED). Although CRED makes efforts to ensure the reliability of its data, it must
be cautioned that obtaining precise and accurate information about natural disasters,
many of which occurred decades ago and in areas where political and environmental
conditions made data collection difficult, is not possible. Thus casualty figures
stemming from, for instance, the series of deadly floods in China that took place a
half-century ago, must all be taken as very rough approximations. Even the figures
for the recent tsunami vary to some degree from source to source, and must be
considered estimates. On the whole, however, the EM-DAT, because of its explicit
definitions and uniform criteria for event inclusion, provides the best means of
comparing data across different disasters.4
Table 1. Deadliest Natural Disasters Since 1900
China (Huang He River)
China (Northern areas)
China (Honan Province)
Nov. 12, 1970
Bangladesh (Khulna, Chittagong) Cyclone
July 27, 1976
China (Tangshan, Tientsin)
Dec. 26, 2004
Indian Ocean (esp. Indonesia,
Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand)
May 22, 1927
China (Jiangxi Province)
Dec. 16, 1920
China (Kansu Province)
Sep. 1, 1923
Japan (Kanto plain)
China (Yangtze river)
EM-DAT is at [http://www.em-dat.net/index.htm].
Criteria and definitions are at
Sources: EM-DAT (op cit) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) at
[http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/eqlists/eqsmosde.html]. This table does not include droughts, epidemics,
and famines, the most significant of which have claimed as many as twenty million victims. The
events are excluded because of the difficulty in pinpointing their locations and timing, and, more
importantly, the extent to which they were exacerbated — or created — by humans. It would be
difficult to argue, for instance, that the recent North Korean famines, which have likely claimed several
hundred thousand lives over several years, are entirely “natural” in their origin.
a. USGS lists official death toll at 255,000; some reports indicate toll as high as 655,000.
b. The USGS lists death toll from earthquake and tsunami at 283,106.
c. Month unknown.
Although its nearly 73,000 fatalities rank it as a truly major calamity, the recent
earthquake in South Asia was not among the ten deadliest natural disasters of the last
Relief to Recovery. It is expected that the relief operation will come to an
end in April — roughly six months after the October 8, 2005 earthquake — at which
point the recovery and reconstruction phase will officially be launched. The U.N.
system, in coordination with the GoP and others centrally involved in the relief effort,
has developed “The Action Plan from Relief to Recovery,” (the Action Plan) which
will propose a stronger coordination mechanism and concrete project proposals to
support Pakistan in its recovery efforts. The Plan is scheduled to be released at the
six-month point on April 8. The recovery stage is expected to cover one year.7 As
The December 2004 tsunami, however, was. The tsunami was unique in both the extent
of its damage and the number of countries it affected. Unlike other disasters, which have
been relatively more localized, the tsunami struck thousands of miles of populous coastline
in nearly a dozen countries, affecting millions of people. Also, the deaths of thousands of
tourists from the industrialized world vacationing in southern Thailand and Sri Lanka —
mostly Europeans but also many Americans and Japanese — may have given the Indian
Ocean tsunami a higher profile than the more recent South Asian earthquake. Indeed, there
has been some concern that donors who contributed to the tsunami relief effort may be less
enthusiastic about assisting victims of the second major South Asian natural disaster to
strike in less than a year. The Pakistan Federal Relief Commission (FRC) also provides a
comparison of the two natural disasters and specifically focuses on the number of people
impacted; terrain and access of the areas affected; number of helicopters provided in the
relief effort; and number of pledges realized as commitments.
Tom Coipuram, Information Research Specialist, contributed to the update of this section.
The United Nations Special Envoy for the South Asia Earthquake, former U.S. President
George H.W. Bush, met in March with key representatives at the United Nations, including
Jan Egeland, Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Kemal Dervis, Administrator of the U.N.
Development Program (UNDP) to discuss the transition and critical need for continued
support. United Nations News Service, “Former US President Bush, UN Envoy, Helps Plan
Pakistan Quake Recovery,” March 24, 2006.
the relief operation winds down, the military side of the operation is also coming to
an end — NATO completed its mission on February 1, 2006, and the phased
withdrawal of U.S. forces will end on March 31.
Overall, the relief effort is seen as a success so far. Moreover, the fears of a
second wave of deaths, massive population movements, malnutrition, and disease
were not realized.8 Government agencies and humanitarian organizations have
identified a number of critical needs to be addressed during the remainder of the
relief operation. These include maintaining relief operations, improving camp
sanitation, and preparing for the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).9 It is
anticipated that cooperation between the GoP, provincial and local governments, and
the aid community will continue in the transition to a recovery operation.
Numbers at a Glance. In addition to the 74,651 deaths recorded so far, over
69,000 injuries have been reported in Pakistan and 6,622 in India. The Federal Relief
Commission (FRC) in Pakistan adds another 58,897 as “other injured.” The
International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates more than 2.8 million
people were displaced as a result of the earthquake and most require alternative
shelter.10 All of the figures could change as government authorities and humanitarian
organizations continue to survey remote areas and reconcile their information. The
onset of winter made access to these areas even more difficult.11
Table 2 summarizes the number of people affected by the earthquake; updates
are available on the Pakistan FRC website, cited below.
UNOCHA, “United Nations — Pakistan Moves to Recovery and Reconstruction,” March
USAID South Asia Earthquake Fact Sheet #42, March 17, 2006, citing the government
of India and IOM.
WFP Emergency Report no. 44, October 28, 2005, available at [http://www.wfp.org/
english/?n=34]; updates are provided regularly. For road clearance information, see
government of Pakistan Summary of Relief Activity, November 5, 2005, available at
Table 2. Estimated Number of People Affected by the South
(Current as of March 17, 2006)
Sources: Pakistani casualty figures are from government of Pakistan Federal Relief Commission
website at [http://earthquakepakistan.com/Press_Brief_latest.htm], which is updated regularly. Injury
figures include 69,412 “seriously injured,” and 58,897 “other injured.” Other data reported USAID
South Asia Earthquake Fact Sheet # 42, March 17, 2006, citing the government of India and IOM.
Access. The weather and terrain have presented major challenges in the relief
operation and delayed or prevented access to many of the earthquake victims.12
Three weeks after the earthquake, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimated that 30% of the affected areas of
northern Pakistan were still inaccessible to relief workers, leaving as many as
200,000 people unable to receive assistance. In the days after the earthquake
landslides blocked many key road links. Then winter conditions presented a
potentially formidable challenge, although the U.N. recently declared that the battle
to assist and sustain the millions of homeless survivors had gone well due to the mild
winter, extensive preparation, and massive international aid.13 According to U.N.
Deputy Humanitarian Aid Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick, “it was very kind weather,
the number of helicopters we had at our disposal also helped and ... people didn’t
come down from the mountains and overburden the towns.”14 Throughout the relief
operation there has been a continuing reliance on aircraft to ferry in supplies and
transport the wounded.
The World Food Program (WFP) reports that although the weather has
improved, roads are still blocked. “The snow line has receded significantly since its
maximum on the 19th of January 2006 and no significant further snowfall is forecast
at this moment. However, heavy rains continued to hamper relief efforts in some
areas and have caused fatal landslides for the local population and UN staff.”15
Melting snow is only adding to the problem.
In the months following the earthquake, there have been more than 2,000 seismic
McGuirk, Rod, “U.N. Airlifts Save 3 Million Pakistan Quake Survivors,” AP, March 9,
WFP Emergency Report No. 11, March 11, 2006
Road closures delay food dispatches and IDP returns. McGoldrick also said
that “road accessibility will remain a major challenge and it is expected that there
will be a continued need for a minimum of five or six helicopters until at least
September.”16 UNOCHA reports that landslides and falling rock are expected
through the July monsoon season and it will likely take months to repair and open
roads.17 For example, in Muzaffarabad, rain has impeded WFP and other U.N.
logistics and cargo services. In Neelum and Jhelum valleys, entrances are
temporarily closed until further estimation of the damage is assessed.18
In February and early March strikes and demonstrations in Pakistan temporarily
disrupted relief activities. However, the security situation has stabilized in the
earthquake affected areas. By late March, the situation was reported to be relatively
calm and relief operations are back to normal.
Coordination. With so many international and domestic actors and agencies
on the ground, one of the most important issues is coordination of relief activity.
Reportedly 70 local NGOs, 69 international NGOs and organizations, and 23 U.N.
agencies have been providing relief assistance. As will be discussed in further detail
later in the report, several sources indicated that the GoP was slow to organize its
own response to the earthquake and to coordinate the host of international actors
involved in the relief effort. According to assessments of the USAID Disaster
Assessment and Response Team (DART), the GoP’s performance steadily improved
and information was more effectively centralized at the macro-level by the FRC. The
GoP’s performance at the regional level has varied from location to location, and has
depended on local capacity and the assistance provided by international relief
Humanitarian Relief Sectors
The primary locus of international coordination remains UNOCHA, which has
established four regional coordination centers in Muzaffarabad, Mansehra, Bagh, and
Batagram.20 The major humanitarian actors initially divided the relief effort
sectorally into ten relief sectors or clusters, with a different organization taking the
lead for each sector, as follows: Emergency Shelter (lead: International Organization
for Migration [IOM]), Logistics (lead: WFP), Nutrition (lead: WFP), Health (lead:
WHO), Water and Sanitation (lead: UNICEF), Education (lead: UNICEF), Protection
(lead: UNICEF), Camp Management (lead: UNHCR), IT and Communications (lead:
WFP), and Early Recovery/Reconstruction (lead: United Nations Development
OCHA Situation Report No. 39, South Asia Earthquake, Pakistan, March 10, 2006, p. 5.
Ibid, p. 5.
Author’s interview with USAID DART members, November 22, 2005.
The Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) for Pakistan is an information service
provided to the humanitarian community. It is managed by UNOCHA and operates in
coordination with several partners. See [http://www1.earthquake05.un.org.pk].
Program [UNDP]).21 Each of the clusters is responsible for providing information
to the FRC, OCHA, and each other. According to some reports, performance has
varied significantly from cluster to cluster. A brief update of the progress in each
cluster is provided below:22
Recovery and Reconstruction. The Action Plan mentioned earlier in this
report develops a process for the transition to recovery in the areas of education,
health, livelihoods, water and sanitation, shelter and housing, camp management,
support to vulnerable groups, governance, and coordination and common services.
Developed in collaboration with the military and civil authorities, the hope is that the
GoP’s Earthquake and Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) will
continue to work with the humanitarian cluster system. The ERRA also plans to
focus long term on the areas of housing, education, health, and livelihoods.
As of mid-March 2006, UNOCHA identified the following immediate priorities
for humanitarian operations: 1) assisting IDP returns; 2) reviewing the Action Plan;
3) providing food and non-food assistance in IDP camps; 4) ensuring revitalization
of primary health care services, increased access to health care and continued disease
surveillance;23 and 5) creating opportunities for education and teacher training.
IDP Returns, Protection, and Camp Management. In this report, the
IDP returns, Protection, and Camp Management issues have been combined in one
cluster because they are interrelated and now focus mostly on population returns. As
the transition to a recovery phase takes shape, those displaced by the earthquake
remain the central focus of relief activities but now with an emphasis on the return
to their places of origin. The IDP returns are being coordinated and monitored to
ensure a safe, voluntary, and dignified process in keeping with international
standards. On March 11, the Returns Task Force (RTF) released policy guidelines
for the returns process in a document entitled “The Framework and Operational
Process for the Return or Resettlement of Persons Displaced by the October
Earthquake.” RTFs at the provincial level have been set up in coordination with
humanitarian hubs.24 Assisted returns began on March 10.
Protection largely involves monitoring and reporting on the returns process —
whether it is voluntary, whether people are informed about the process and whether
conditions in the areas of return are adequate. NGO personnel and U.N. and GoP
agencies are coordinating these efforts. According to UNHCR, those IDPs returning
For cluster information, see the
For more detail on recent cluster activities, see UNOCHA Situation Report No. 40, South
Asia Earthquake, Pakistan, March 24, 2006.
OCHA Situation Report No. 39, South Asia — Earthquake: Pakistan, March 10, 2006.
United Nations Country Team in Pakistan, “Pakistan: Framework and Operational
Process for the Return or Resettlement of Persons Displaced by the October Earthquake,”
March 11, 2006. A UNHCR-World Vision-UNICEF collaborative effort is underway to
draft guidelines on the role of the humanitarian hubs in the IDP returns process.
home are concerned about basic needs — shelter, drinking water and food — and
also the availability of land and the repair required for homes and roads. A public
information campaign on the returns process is also being conducted by the FRC.
There are both planned and spontaneous camps in the earthquake-affected area
and the estimated numbers vary. UNOCHA reports that “a total of 156 camps with
a population of 142,940 people are in the earthquake-affected area.” The United
Nations Country Team says that statistics indicate that over 297,000 displaced
persons are living in camps.25
Camp management now includes implementing check out procedures,
monitoring the returns process at the camp departure stage, and preparing for camp
closure. It is assumed that vulnerable people who are unable to return at present will
be provided with continuing assistance. Initially, it was reported that the Pakistani
government announced plans to close by the end of March the relief camps that
housed more than 200,000 people through winter. According to USAID, contrary to
these earlier reports of a March 31 deadline for camp closures, the GoP says that
there is no deadline.26
Emergency Shelter. With an estimated three million left homeless by the
earthquake in the foothills of the Himalayas, provision of emergency shelter before
the onset of winter was among the most pressing priorities facing humanitarian
workers. UNOCHA reported that many residents of highland areas preferred to stay
on their land through the winter rather than descend to emergency camps in the
valleys. In response, the Pakistani military and the humanitarian community have
been seeking to rebuild as many shelters as possible in these areas.27
According to news sources, “about 2 million other quake survivors have been
staying in tents elsewhere, and about 400,000 have lived in tin shacks in the
mountains. They now face the daunting task of rebuilding their homes.”28
Food Security. The general IDP camp feeding and general food distribution
will end on March 31. Food for vulnerable people will be available. Targeted foodfor-work and food-for-training will also continue. The WFP Executive Board
recently approved the two-year Protracted Recovery and Relief Operation (PRRO),
which will begin on April 1, 2006. The PRRO, which is a short term operation to
move from a relief to a recovery operation, is
United Nations Country Team in Pakistan, “Pakistan: Framework and Operational
Process for the Return or Resettlement of Persons Displaced by the October Earthquake,”
March 11, 2006.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Pakistan: Earthquake Camp Closures
Start Today,” March 10, 2006.
For updated information, please refer to OCHA’s situation reports, available at
The Associated Press, “U.N. Claims Victory in Bid to Sustain Survivors of Pakistan
Quake,” The New York Times, March 9, 2006.
comprised of two essential components: a) relief, returnees will be provided with
food while they rebuild their homes and animal shelters and rehabilitate their
land and agricultural infrastructure, and assistance to the people residing in the
locations above the snow line, and those who have been made homeless; and b)
recovery, comprised of two sub-components: i) sustainable livelihoods,
environment and natural resources, ii) education and Food-for-Training (FFT).29
About 670,000 homeless people will be provided with food as they return to rebuild
their homes and community infrastructure. Food also will be provided to 450,000
school children to maintain attendance and address short-term hunger. The
operational cost for the PRRO is $67.8 million or 113,648 tons of food.30
Water and Sanitation. According to the latest OCHA Situation Report,
access to safe drinking water in IDP’s living in camps has improved, including in
Muzaffarabad, where 85.7% of the population in camps and 95% outside camps have
access to drinking water. In Bagh, 100% of the population in camps and 10% outside
camps have access to safe drinking water. In Shangla, 100% of the population in
camps and 30% outside camps have access to drinking water, and in Battagram, 57%
of the population in camps and 30% outside camps have access to safe drinking
water.31 Access to sanitation facilities has also improved.
Health and Disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) opened field
offices to coordinate medical response, disseminate health information, and provide
disease surveillance. The organization has also been distributing medicine to clinics
and hospitals and has hired health workers to carry out health promotion and
consultation activities.32 In addition to shelter, WHO in November 2005 said there
was an urgent need for more field hospitals, female paramedics, and improved water
and sanitary conditions.33
According to March 2006 WHO Health Situation Reports, the “return process
of the earthquake affected population is taking place, and vaccinating centers and
medical checkouts are being set up to minimize imminent health risks.”34 Highlights
WFP Emergency Report No. 11, March 11, 2006
UNOCHA Situation Report No. 39, South Asia Earthquake, Pakistan, March 10, 2006.
“South Asia Earthquake Situation Report #20,” WHO and Pakistan Ministry of Health,
November 2-7, 2005.
See also earlier reports, all available at
“South Asia Earthquake Situation Report #24,” WHO and Pakistan Ministry of Health,
November 20-25, 2005. See also earlier reports, particularly #18, on WHO website:
report is in Naqash, Zeeshan, “Possible Cholera Outbreak in Pakistan Quake Camps,” AFP,
November 6, 2005.
World Health Organization Health Situation Report No. 35, March 1-15, 2006
from the latest WHO Health Situation Report states that a total of 45 medical
professionals currently taking care of the 740 spinal injured patients affected by the
earthquake, were trained to improve their skills in physical rehabilitation, 20 out of
the 35 confirmed prefabricated WHO basic health units have been completed, a total
of 1,458,058 children up to five years of age were vaccinated against polio in the
earthquake affected areas, and over 80% of the targeted population between 12
months and five years of age were covered.35 The United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) confirms that it immunized as many children as possible against polio as
well as measles, tetanus, whooping cough, and diphtheria.36 Health education is also
being emphasized. The Ministry of Health and the WHO are working together to
develop a disaster preparedness program for future disasters.
Education. UNOCHA reports that “of the 449,138 primary school-level
children in the affected areas, 186,580 have been enrolled in 1,357 schools with
support of U.N. agencies and NGOs.”37 According to UNICEF, more than 17,000
Pakistani children died when their schools collapsed in the earthquake. Nearly
20,000 children may have physical impairments due to injuries and amputations. The
current focus now is to provide psychological support to vulnerable children. “There
is critical need for psychosocial support — people are reeling from the trauma the
quake’s left behind,” says UNICEF Protection Officer Mannan Rana and that “they
did not get a chance to grieve — they were rushed to pick up the pieces of their lives
and have had to struggle to survive.”38
Logistics and Telecommunications. According to the WFP Emergency
Report, the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) funding is due to run out in
spring 2006, and $24.0 million is needed to maintain the helicopter operation until
August 2006.39 Of the 20 UNHAS helicopters that was operational, by March seven
were off contract. The WFP Emergency Report also stated that “military air support
will also stop on March 31, 2006, leaving UNHAS with a total fleet of 13 aircrafts
as of April 1st, as opposed to the fleet of 28 helicopters that was previously tasked
by UNHAS...”40 The United Nations Joint Logistics Center (UNJLC) is also
conducting road assessments and gathering GPS data to improve maps and
Ibid.; “Winter Trebles Illnesses in Pakistan Quake Zone,” AFP, November 30, 2005;
“Deadly Pneumonia Hits Pakistan Quake Children, AFP, November 29, 3005; and Haider,
Zeeshan, “Immunisation Race Starts in Quake-Hit Pakistan,” Reuters, November 13, 2005.
UNOCHA Situation Report No. 40, South Asia Earthquake, Pakistan, March 24, 2006.
Spry-Leverton, Julia, “Protection Centres Offer Quake-Affected Children a Chance to
Leave Trauma Behind,” UNICEF: Pakistan, January 20, 2006. Available at
WFP Emergency Report No. 11, March 11, 2006
Ibid; U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan Press Release, “U.S. Provides $6 Million in
Equipment and Announces U.S. Military Departure Schedule,” February 4, 2006. Available
online at [http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pakistan/h06020401.html].
information about access. The UNJLC is due to end its operations on April 12, but
a request has been filed to extend its mandate to the end of June.41
The Interagency radio room is scheduled to close at the end of March.
Telecommunications installations and field-based radio training are ongoing.
The Pakistani response to the earthquake has come from many sectors of the
state and society. Relief has come not only from the government and military, but
also from nongovernmental groups — including militant organizations — as well as
individual Pakistanis acting on their own. The GoP created a Federal Relief
Commission (FRC) on October 10, 2006, to coordinate relief efforts. President
Musharraf established the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority
(ERRA) on October 12 to oversee reconstruction policies. According to UNOCHA,
ERRA is putting together technical working groups at the federal and provincial
levels which will monitor and coordinate reconstruction activities. ERRA is also
examining building design and food security, agriculture, and livestock activities.
Efforts are being made to include the GoP in recovery planning and implementation
and representatives are involved in the humanitarian cluster meetings.43
While the GoP has received credit from several sources for its efforts, it has also
been criticized for responding too slowly to the disaster. Several media reports,
discussed below, have contrasted this delayed reaction with the swift work of several
Islamist political parties and militants, which were reported on several occasions to
be the first to provide relief to victims. There has also been criticism of the military’s
control over relief coordination and the degree to which there may be duplication on
relief and reconstruction efforts.
For its part, the government of India (GoI) has announced that it does not need
outside assistance in dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake. This stance has
been the subject of some criticism as domestic aid has at times been slow to reach
The GoP reportedly has estimated that it will cost Pakistan $5 billion to recover
from the earthquake; the World Bank places the figure at $5.2 billion44 According to
United Nations Joint Logistics Centre, “UNJLC Bulletin No. 39 - Pakistan Earthquake,”
March 22, 2006.
This section updated with the assistance of (name redacted), Analyst in Asian Affairs.
UNOCHA, “Pakistan — Earthquake: OCHA Situation Report No. 40,” March 24, 2006.
“Pakistan: Quake Cost about $5 billion,” Reuters, October 15, 2005. World Bank figure
the GoP, Pakistan has received $330.86 million in grants and loans from the
international community, in addition to $1.1 billion in cash and in-kind contributions
received earlier. The GoP reports that in addition to the international community’s
efforts, 70 local NGOs provided relief assistance.
The GoP has responded by mobilizing both civil and military personnel to
provide health care, shelter, power, and road clearance. According to fact sheets, the
GoP is operating 24 medical treatment centers and has fielded 39 treatment teams.45
The GoP has also set up twelve medical relief camps and three hospital and
convalescence centers, both of which are reported as having free space. (This
appears to be a change from earlier reporting, which showed total occupancy in the
camps of 13,128, well above the stated capacity of 10,575 individuals. According
to these earlier reports, the GoP was operating seven hospitals and convalescence
centers, with a capacity of 2,920 individuals and an occupancy of 1,874.46)
Turning to infrastructure repairs, the GoP states that, as of March 15, 2006, it
had opened all main road arteries except the Laswa Bypass and had restored 70% of
lost electrical power, 75% of the water supply, and 96% of telecommunications. An
earlier report stated that the GoP had cleared 10-15% of the earthquake debris; this
data was not available on later reports.47 While an explanation of how the
government arrived at these percentages is not provided, an undated but earlier fact
sheet from the same source shows more detail on the progress. According to this
sheet, the GoP had restored all of the telecommunications linkages in the Northwest
Frontier Province (NWFP) and 86% of the disrupted linkages in Azad Kashmir.
Twenty telephone exchanges (of a total 67 disrupted) had not yet been restored. In
the meantime, the government had established 103 free telephone centers for victims,
as well as 110 satellite phone centers. Power had been restored, at least partially, to
eight of nine affected areas. The government had restored 90% of the water supply
to Muzaffarabad and 100% to Rawalkot, and was working to restore supply to Bagh
and Balakot. Where the government has been unable to clear roads blocked by
debris, it has constructed mule tracks in order to ferry in supplies.48
Pakistan Federal Relief Commission Press Brief of March 24, 2006,
[http://www.earthquakepakistan.com/Press_Brief_latest.htm]. Earlier press briefings
divided the GoP response into civil and military components. According to these earlier
reports, the Pakistani Army was operating four forward medical treatment centers and had
fielded ten treatment teams. An additional 18 surgical teams and 21 health services teams
had been fielded from civil sources.
Pakistan Federal Relief Commission Press Release of November 14, 2005, op cit. The
information on health teams comes from an undated press release: “Relief Operations,
Details,” previously available at [http://www.earthquakepakistan.com/images/
Pakistan Federal Relief Commission Press Release of November 21, 2005, op cit. Earlier
report was accessed November 14.
“Relief Operations, Details,” op cit. A total of 13,902 of NWFP’s 668,136 lines were
disrupted; all have been restored. In AJ&K, 20,294 lines (of a total 105,592) were
disrupted; 2,831 remain to be restored.
Criticism of Government Response. President Pervez Musharraf and his
government have been criticized by some for not responding more swiftly to the
earthquake. It has been reported that the Pakistani Army did not begin bringing
supplies into affected areas until October 12, four days after the earthquake struck,
and even then, according to some sources, the Army appeared thin on the ground.49
Ayaz Amir, a columnist for the influential — and generally perceived as progovernment — Pakistani newspaper Dawn, stated,
From Hazara to Azad Kashmir voices arising from the deepest recesses of the
heart will tell you how grateful they are to the people of Pakistan who came
unbidden in their hour of need. I heard this in Balakot amidst the ruins and I
heard this in Muzaffarabad. But as God is my witness in all this wide arc of
disaster not one word, not a single one, did I hear in praise of the government or
Pakistan’s opposition parties also criticized President Musharraf and the army
for a slow response and alleged mismanagement of the relief operation. They
launched a motion shortly after the earthquake calling on the government to “give a
full accounting of the relief efforts to Pakistan’s parliament. ‘The government has
failed to organize the crisis management,’ their motion stated. ‘The matter is very
serious and needs to be discussed on the floor of the house.’” Some opposition
members have accused General Musharraf of using the crisis to aggrandize his own
power: “Everything from the relief to the foreign donations is being controlled by the
Army, and it is not accountable to anyone,” said Sherry Rehman, a member of
Parliament from the opposition Pakistan People’s Party.51
In response to such charges, President Musharraf has asserted that the
government and the military have “done a good, if not a very good, job.”52 He
compared the Pakistani response to that of the US government in the wake of
Hurricane Katrina: “In this type of calamity, no country can have 100 percent
success. Even the United States cannot do it.”53 Musharraf also criticized the
international community for its “double standard” by comparing the earthquake to
the Katrina response in another way: “I know that the contributions to Katrina were
much more. Did the U.S. need more aid than Pakistan?”54 On the issue of
Lancaster, John, “Pakistanis Vent Anger About Pace of Relief,” Washington Post,
October 13, 2005.
Amir, Ayaz, “The Best and the Worst,” Dawn, October 28, 2005. See also Roedad Khan,
“A President in Crisis,” The Nation, October 23, 2005.
Hussain, Zahid, “‘We Do Not Need Them’; Islamist Groups Take a High Profile in the
Kashmir Relief Effort, and Decry an Influx of Western Troops,” Newsweek, November 7,
Bokhari, Farhan and Jo Johnson, “Musharraf Defends his Response to Earthquake,”
Financial Times, October 26, 2005.
“Musharraf Defends Quake Response, Pledges 500,000 Tents for Survivors,” AP,
November 1, 2005.
Haven, Paul, “A Month After Monster South Asian Earthquake, Fears that the Tragedy
May Just be Beginning,” AP, November 8, 2005.
parliamentary oversight of earthquake relief, the government appears not to have
responded in detail to the charges by the Pakistani opposition that it is cutting
Parliament out of the relief effort. Continued disagreement means that some see the
situation as “unfortunate ... in the backdrop of a national tragedy, a humanitarian
issue is being used to twist the ruling party’s arm,” and running the risk that
prolonged negotiations may well be outpaced by progress on the ground.55 It is also
worth noting that President Musharraf has decided to postpone a planned purchase
of F-16 fighters from the United States in order to concentrate on earthquake relief
efforts. The deal is still on hold but expected in 2006. The opposition Pakistan
People’s Party (PPP) has demanded that the government defer a $1 billion weapons
deal with Sweden.56
Militant Groups Provide Aid. While the GoP was criticized by some
observers for a slow reaction, it was stated by many sources that some militant
groups acted very quickly to provide aid to victims. Jamaat-ul-Dawa, an “Islamic
extremist” group with alleged ties to Al-Qaida, has been playing an active role in
relief operations in Muzaffarabad, where it is reportedly operating a field hospital
that performs twenty surgeries a day. Jamaat-ul-Dawa is an affiliate of Lashkar-eTaiba, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.57 The Gulf Times reports that
banned Pakistani militant groups have not only played an active role in providing
immediate aid after the earthquake, but are also soliciting and collecting funds for
further relief efforts.58 The Islamic militant group Hizbul Mujahideen — which has
condemned recent violence against civilians in Kashmir — is also active in the relief
effort.59 Many of those receiving assistance appear to see the involvement of
militant groups as a positive development. Some experts acknowledge these groups
have played an important role in the relief effort and hope that by seeing the benefits
of relief work, they will relinquish violence for more peaceful, mainstream political
ambitions. Others fear that the involvement of these groups only empowers them.
Provision of relief does not mean they have given up their ideology and may only
“Parliamentary Oversight of Earthquake Relief,” Business Recorder, December 19, 2005.
See CRS Report RS21584, Pakistan: Chronology of Recent Events, by (name redacted),
and “Makdoom Amin Fahim Wants Deferring of Plane Purchases, GHQ Shifting,” Pakistan
Press International, November 8, 2005.
Philp, Catherine, “Terror Groups Move into Quake Vacuum,” The Times (London),
October 17, 2005; Hussain, Zahid, “Still No Help for 40 Villages: Pakistan Death Toll
Jumps to 73,000,” Ottawa Citizen, November 3, 2005. See also Lancaster and Khan, op cit.
Hyat, Kamila, “Banned Groups Back with a Vengeance,” Gulf News, November 4, 2005.
She writes, “The comments by President Pervez Musharraf that banned groups were free to
carry out relief work have brought them out into the open and proved that these forces are
entrenched in the country. Some groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad are reported to have
been the first to arrive on the scene in some parts of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and to
have swiftly initiated relief work.”
Huggler, Justin, “Pakistan Failures on the Road to Disaster,” The Independent, November
increase their presence in the affected areas. In the long run this could infringe on
democracy and tolerance.60
The same Washington Post reporter who observed very few army vehicles on
the roads four days after the earthquake noticed that a road he was on, “was crowded
with private relief convoys, many belonging to the social service arm of Jamaat-eIslami, Pakistan’s largest and best-organized Islamic party,”61 which reportedly has
ties to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.62 Although there is some evidence that
the United States is receiving positive feedback in Pakistan for its role in assisting
relief efforts (see below), some have speculated that the high visibility of Islamist
groups may bode badly for both President Musharraf and the United States:
“Musharraf, already seen as a Western stooge by Islamist groups, has been criticized
for the pace of the operations... That, many worry, is going to affect the popularity
of an already unpopular United States and public opinion about Musharraf.”63
To some extent, the efforts by Islamist groups to aid victims may be seen as part
of a larger outpouring of support by ordinary Pakistanis, who may have found a sense
of unity in the crisis that many felt has been lacking in the past. Pakistan has long
been a country divided by ethnicity, class, and even, to some extent, religion. A
recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project found that,
of six Muslim countries surveyed, Pakistanis are far more likely to see themselves
as “Muslims first” (79%), than they are as “national citizens first” (7%).64 According
to Husain Haqqani, an expert on Pakistan at the Carnegie Endowment, Pakistan’s
disparate elements have been held together for many years with a self-consciously
constructed official ideology characterized by the belief that “Pakistan’s success
depend[s] on an Islamic nationalism, confrontation with India, and external alliances”
with the West.65 These bonds have worked with varying success over the years, as
Pakistani opinions about the West and its relationship to Islam have changed. It is
against this backdrop, some experts believe, that the outpouring of support from
“Quake Aid Gives Radical Islam a Stage,” The Christian Science Monitor, March 10,
2006. For a more in-depth discussion of this issue, see International Crisis Group,
“Pakistan: Political Impact of the Earthquake, Policy Briefing, March 15, 2006.
Lancaster, John, op cit.
Lancaster, John and Kamran Khan, “Hard-line Islamists Lead in Pakistan Relief Effort,”
The Washington Post, October 16, 2005.
Calamur, Krishnadev, “Pace of Quake Aid May Help Militants,” UPI, October 24, 2005.
Pew Research Center, “Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western
Publics,” released July 14, 2005, at [http://pewglobal.org/reports/
display.php?ReportID=248]. The six Muslim countries surveyed were Pakistan, Jordan,
Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, and Lebanon.
Haqqani, Husain, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, Washington, DC: Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, 2005, p. 50.
ordinary Pakistanis may have provided something of a boost to national feeling.66
Others, however, have questioned how long this sentiment will last.67
As it did after the December 2004 tsunami, the GoI has declared that it does not
need foreign assistance in dealing with the October earthquake. “‘We ourselves are
taking care of our victims,’ said Navtej Sarna, the Foreign Ministry spokesman.
‘When there are offers by friendly countries and anything is needed, these offers are
considered.’” The GoI has responded to the earthquake by moving thousands of
tents, blankets, tarpaulins, and woollen garments, as well as tons of medicine, water,
and food to the affected area.68
As noted above, the earthquake caused far less damage in India than it did in
Pakistan. There is a sense, however, that the Indian official response has at least as
much to do with political posturing as it does with perceived needs on the ground.
The decision to go it alone has attracted some criticism amidst complaints that crucial
supplies, such as tents, are failing to reach victims.69
U.S. Humanitarian Assistance
Shortly after the earthquake, the United States pledged $50 million to assist
victims; at the donors conference on November 19 in Islamabad, the United States
pledged a total of $510 million for earthquake relief and reconstruction to be funded
over a four-year period (FY2006-2009), of which $300 million would come from
U.S. economic and humanitarian assistance programs. The balance of the pledge was
made up of Defense Department in-kind support for relief operations ($110 million)
and assumed U.S. private donations ($100 million).70 The total package included
both financial and in-kind contributions to humanitarian agencies, logistical and
transportation support, and direct assistance to affected populations, including the
provision of food and non-food items. The FY2006 Supplemental request for
Pakistan includes $126.3 million for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction
(discussed in detail later in the report.) A breakdown of USG assistance is provided
in Table 3.
See, e.g., Ali Khan, Asif, “Quake Unites the Nation,” Business Recorder (Pakistan),
October 22, 2005.
Inayatullah, “Fault Lines of Another Kind,” The Nation, October 26, 2005.
Data are available in Government of India Ministry of Home Affairs, National Disaster
Management Division, Situation Report, October 26, 2005.
Sengupta, Somini, “Pride and Politics: India Rejects Aid,” The New York Times, October
The full pledge as announced by USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, including
anticipated private donations, was thus $510 million. See USAID South Asia Earthquake
Fact Sheet #26, November 22, 2005.
Table 3. USG Assistance
(As of March 17, 2006)
assistance to Pakistan
assistance to India
in-kind contributions to WFP
partnership with Procter and Gamble to
provide safe drinking water
contribution to UNHCR (part of appeal)
46,000 tons of Title I wheat
transport, relief supplies (tents, blankets,
plastic sheeting, etc.)
Sources: USAID South Asia Earthquake Fact Sheet #42, March 17, 2006. A more detailed
breakdown of DoD efforts is forthcoming.
Assistance by Source
USAID. USAID sent a Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART) to
Pakistan on October 10. According to USAID, the “mission of the USAID/DART
is to assess humanitarian needs, assist with targeting and coordination of USG
assistance in conjunction with USAID/Pakistan, and provide technical assistance as
required.” The DART is headquartered in Islamabad and has field offices in
Mansehra and Muzaffarabad.71 It has issued regular field reports (many cited in this
report) and cables assessing the progress of relief operations. The USAID/DART is
scheduled to depart on March 31, although USAID/OFDA personnel will remain on
DoD. The United State military also began its relief operations on October 10,
2005, when it dispatched a transport jet from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan with
twelve pallets of food, water, medicine, and blankets for earthquake victims. The
U.S. military continued to fly in food and supplies, while also airlifting injured
Pakistanis to areas where they could get medical help.72 Three weeks after the
earthquake there were 993 U.S. military personnel and 24 helicopters supporting
relief operations in Pakistan, with nine additional CH-47s positioned at Bagram for
deployment to Pakistan when space became available. As of March 2, DoD had
USAID website, [http://www.usaid.gov/locations/asia_near_east/south_asia_quake/].
Cunningham, James H., “First U.S. Earthquake Relief Supplies Arrive in Pakistan,”
American Forces Press Service, Oct. 10, 2005; Garamone, Jim, “U.S. Helicopters, Personnel
Helping Pakistan Recovery,” American Forces Press Service, Oct. 21, 2005.
flown nearly 4,853 helicopter missions delivering over 13,582 tons of relief supplies,
and transported nearly 20,200 evacuees and relief workers.
In addition, DoD has set up a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in
Muzaffarabad, equipped with 96 beds and two operating rooms. The MASH has
performed 276 surgeries and treated 4,937 patients.73 Although many of the supplies
being sent to Pakistan come from U.S. positions in Afghanistan, the relief effort is
not reportedly having a discernable effect on U.S. military activities in Afghanistan.
According to USAID, DOD has obligated $106.6 million for earthquake relief
On February 4, 2006, the U.S. Disaster Assistance Center announced that U.S.
forces will provide Pakistan over $6 million in military medical and construction
equipment and outlined the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces, which began in midFebruary and is scheduled to end on March 31, 2006.74
State/PRM. The Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and
Migration has donated $4.1 million toward UNHCR’s earthquake appeal.
USDA. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided 46,000 metric tons
of Title I wheat to Pakistan.
NGOs. U.S.-based NGOs have played a very active role in the relief and
recovery effort in Pakistan, several of them with USG funding, including Catholic
Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps International, and
Save the Children.75 Many more organizations than these have been active,
Private Sector. On October 27, President Bush announced that a group of
five CEOs from major American corporations were joining to encourage private
sector support for victims of the earthquake. The group has inaugurated a website,
organized through The Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy. According
to USAID, the South Asia Relief Fund, administered by the Committee, announced
on February 27, 2006, that the U.S. private sector had pledged more than $100
million in cash and in-kind contributions.77
USAID South Asia Earthquake Fact Sheet #42, March 17, 2006; DoD Support to Pakistan
Earthquake Executive Summary, November 1, 2005 (as of 0800).
U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan Press Release, “U.S. Provides $6 million in
Equipment and Announces U.S. Military Departure Schedule,” February 4, 2006. Available
The full list of supported NGOs is available in the USAID South Asia Earthquake Fact
sheets, op cit.
A list of U.S. NGOs that are active in the relief and recovery efforts in Pakistan can be
obtained from a variety of sources, including Interaction, which is an alliance of U.S. based
international development and humanitarian NGOs at [http://www.interaction.org].
USAID, South Asia Earthquake, Update, March 3, 2006.
FY2006 Supplemental Funding78
Without additional funds added to the regular FY2006 Foreign Operations
spending measure for earthquake relief, USAID has been drawing on contingency
funds and reallocating existing appropriations to meet emergency requirements for
earthquake victims. The $126.3 million supplemental proposal would replenish
some of these diverted funds, plus provide resources for continuing reconstruction
efforts.79 The Administration says because of the sizable drawdown — estimated to
be $70 million — from the International Disaster and Famine Assistance account, the
ability of the United States to respond to other global disasters in FY2006 would be
seriously undermined. The $70 million allocation for Pakistan earthquake relief
represents about 17% of USAID’s worldwide emergency disaster budget.
Congressional Action. The House-passed bill fully funds the request for
Pakistan earthquake assistance in order to reimburse funds that were previously
reprogrammed to meet emergency needs.
U.S. Response to Other International Natural Disasters
In financial terms, the U.S. government response to the South Asian earthquake
falls somewhere in the middle when compared to the amount of aid it has provided
in past international natural disasters. Table 4 presents USG relief assistance for the
seven international natural disasters of the past ten years that caused more than
This section provided by (name redacted). For more information on the FY2006
supplemental, see CRS Report RL33298 FY2006 Supplemental Appropriations: Iraq and
Other International Activities; Additional Katrina Hurricane Relief by (name redacted),
Specialist in Social Legislation and (name redacted), Specialist in Foreign Affairs.
The FY2006 Supplemental Request includes $70 million for International Disaster and
Famine Assistance (IDFA); $40.5 million for Economic Support Fund (ESF); $5.3 million
for child Survival and Health (CSH); and $10.5 million for Development Assistance (DA).
This list does not include the European heat wave of 2003, which was responsible for as
many as 45,000 deaths, nor the repeated food shortages in North Korea, which are arguably
at least as man-made as they are natural.
Table 4. USG Aid in Past International Natural Disasters
over 2 million
3 million homeless
Sources: All data, unless noted otherwise, are from EM-DAT Emergency Disasters Database,
([http://www.em-dat.net]). Due to the difficulty of obtaining reliable information, all data should be
taken as approximate, especially estimates of “affected” population. See notes for Table 1 and text
box below for more qualifications about data.
a. Data sources for USG assistance: Hurricane Mitch: CRS Report RL30083, Supplemental
Appropriations for FY1999: Central America Disaster Aid, Middle East Peace, and Other
Initiatives, by (name redacted). Tsunami: CRS Report RL32783, FY2005 Supplemental
Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan, Tsunami Relief, and Other Activities, by (name redacted)
and (name redacted). A total of $656 million was approved for the Tsunami Recovery and
Reconstruction Fund, but $25 million was committed to avian flu. S. Asia earthquake: USAID
South Asia Earthquake Fact Sheet #27, November 29, 2005. Turkey earthquake: CRS Report
RS20328, Turkey: After the Earthquake, by Carol Migdolovitz. Total includes $14.46 million
in OFDA aid plus $10 million in assistance from the DoD. The DoD aid was omitted from the
OFDA Annual Report, which lists the USG total as $14.39m. India Earthquake: OFDA
Annual Report FY2001, p. 49. Venezuela flood: OFDA Annual Report FY2000, p. 82. Iran
earthquake: USAID, [http://www.usaid.gov/iran/].
Difficulties in Comparing Disaster Assistance
Comparing USG aid figures across disasters is a speculative undertaking.
Authority, definitions, and categories of services are not necessarily equivalent
across events. Each agency has its own budget, with its own criteria, accounting
detail, and regional specificity. The fact that an urgent response to humanitarian
crises is often required only compounds the problem. Budgets may reflect regional
support, a certain area, specific countries, or a combination thereof over time and
with changing events.
Even if we accept that USG aid is comparable across disasters, the disasters
themselves are not equivalent: the areas in which they occur differ dramatically in
terrain, underlying economic conditions, and governmental capacity. It thus makes
little sense to compare, for example, the amount of USG aid delivered per casualty.
Even the decision to look at fatalities as the measure of a disaster’s severity can be
questioned, in part because of the difficulty of obtaining accurate figures. In
assessing the amount of aid provided to disasters, it may make more sense to look
at the economic damage each has caused. Measured in this way, the seven greatest
international natural disasters of the last ten years are: (1) the 1995 earthquake in
Kobe, Japan ($95 billion in damage); (2) the 1998 flood in China ($30 billion); (3)
the 2004 earthquake in Niigata, Japan ($24 billion); (4) the 1997 wildfires in
Indonesia ($17 billion); (5) the 1995 flood in North Korea ($15 billion); (6) the
1995 earthquake in Taiwan ($14.1 billion), and (7) the 1996 flooding in China
($12.6 billion). (The United States, if included in this list, would garner a spot for
Hurricane Katrina, which caused $25 billion in damage.)81
Once again, however, such a comparison may conceal more than it reveals:
a major factor affecting the economic severity of a natural disaster is clearly the
economic prosperity of the area in which it occurs. The Kobe earthquake was
expensive because Japan was so well off. Furthermore, obtaining reliable and
consistent figures for the cost of recovering from a natural disaster is notoriously
difficult. Estimates range tremendously depending upon the criteria used — for
instance, replacement cost vs. auction cost vs. assessed value of damaged property
— and the organization doing the estimate.
Comparing USG and international aid is even more difficult, because of the
often dramatically different forms the assistance takes (in-kind contributions vs.
cash, for instance). Finally, it is not always evident whether figures represent
pledges of support or more specific obligations.
Estimates are once again from EM-DAT, op cit.
The U.S. Emergency Response Mechanism
The United States is generally a leader and major contributor to relief efforts in
humanitarian disasters.82 In 2004 the United States contributed more than $2.4 billion
to disaster relief worldwide.83 In the case of both the South Asian earthquake and the
Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, some say that the response will require a
major long-term effort beyond the relief and recovery operation currently underway.84
The President has broad authority to provide emergency assistance for foreign
disasters and the United States government provides disaster assistance through
several United States agencies. The very nature of humanitarian disasters — the need
to respond quickly in order to save lives and provide relief — has resulted in an
rather unrestricted definition of what this type of assistance consists of at both a
policy and an operational level. While humanitarian assistance is assumed to provide
for urgent food, shelter, and medical needs, the agencies within the U.S. government
providing this support typically expand or contract the definition in response to
circumstances. Funds may be used for U.S. agencies to deliver the services required
or to provide grants to international organizations (IOs), international governmental
and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as private or religious
voluntary organizations (PVOs). USAID is the U.S. agency charged with
coordinating U.S. government and private sector assistance. It also coordinates with
international organizations, the governments of countries suffering disasters, and
The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) in USAID’s Bureau of
Humanitarian Response can respond immediately with relief materials and personnel,
many of whom are already abroad on mission.85 It is responsible for the provision
of non-food humanitarian assistance and can quickly assemble Disaster Area
Response Teams (DARTs) to conduct assessments. OFDA has wide authority to
borrow funds, equipment, and personnel from other parts of USAID and other federal
agencies. USAID has two other offices that administer U.S. humanitarian aid: Food
For Peace (FFP) and the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). USAID administers
Title II of the FFP under P.L. 480 and provides relief and development food aid that
does not have to be repaid. OTI provides post-disaster transition assistance, which
includes mainly short-term peace and democratization projects with some attention
to humanitarian elements but not emergency relief.
The Department of Defense (DoD) Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic
Aid (OHDACA) appropriation funds three DoD humanitarian programs: the
For background information see CRS Report RL32714, International Disasters and
Humanitarian Assistance: U.S. Governmental Response, by (name redacted).
This total is based on FY2004 appropriations for International Disaster and Famine
Assistance (IDFA), the Refugee and Migration Account (MRA), and the Emergency
Refugee and Migration Account (ERMA), as well as the “emergency” program level for
food assistance (PL480 title II).
See text box above, “Difficulties in Comparing Disaster Assistance.”
Authorized in Sec. 491-493 of P.L. 87-195, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP), the Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA)
Program, and Foreign Disaster Relief and Emergency Response (FDR/ER). The
office provides humanitarian support to stabilize emergency situations and deals with
a range of tasks including the provision of food, shelter and supplies, and medical
evacuations. In addition the President has the authority to draw down defense
equipment and direct military personnel to respond to disasters. The President may
also use the Denton program to provide space-available transportation on military
aircraft and ships to private donors who wish to transport humanitarian goods and
equipment in response to a disaster.86
Generally, OFDA provides emergency from thirty to ninety days after a disaster.
The same is true for Department of Defense humanitarian assistance. After the initial
emergency is over, assistance is provided through other channels, such as the regular
country development programs of USAID.
The State Department also administers programs for humanitarian relief with
a focus on refugees and the displaced. The Emergency Refugee and Migration
Account (ERMA) is a contingency fund87 that provides wide latitude to the President
in responding to refugee emergencies. Emergencies lasting more than a year come
out of the regular Migration and Refugee Account (MRA) through the Population,
Migration and Refugees (PRM) bureau.88 PRM covers refugees worldwide, conflict
victims, and populations of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), often extended to include internally displaced people (IDPs).
Humanitarian assistance includes a range of services from basic needs to community
In addition to the United States, a great many international actors are also
providing relief to the earthquake-affected region, either through financial
contributions to the Pakistani government or aid organizations, or by directly
providing relief supplies and emergency personnel. Reportedly 70 local NGOs, 69
international NGOs and organizations, and 23 U.N. agencies provided relief
assistance. Obtaining an exact up-to-date record of all international contributions is
not possible — in part because some assistance is not reported to governments or
Section 402 of Title 10, named after former Senator Jeremiah Denton, authorizes shipment
of privately donated humanitarian goods on U.S. military aircraft provided there is space and
they are certified as appropriate for the disaster by USAID/OFDA. The goods can be
bumped from the transport if other U.S. government aid must be transported.
Governed by P.L. 103-326, the maximum amount is $100 million. Authorized in sections
2 and 3 or P.L. 87-510 of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962.
When there is functional or programmatic overlap between USAID and PRM, they
coordinate with each other and define partners. Traditionally PRM funds UNHCR and other
multilateral actors while USAID creates bilateral arrangements with NGOs. This is not a
hard and fast rule, however, and both organizations exercise a degree of latitude in their
response to crises.
coordinating agencies — and in part because of the delay in their recording.89 The
vast majority of the funding is going to Pakistan. The government of India has, for
the most part, declined offers of assistance, stating that it is capable of handling the
relief operation on its territory.
The total amount of funds pledged for relief and reconstruction at the November
donors’ conference in Islamabad stands at $6.9 billion to Pakistan to assist in relief
and recovery efforts, exceeding the GoP’s goal of $5.2 billion. Major contributors
include the Asian Development Bank ($1 billion), the Islamic Development Bank
($501 million) and the European Union ($270 million).90 It is not clear how much
has been received to date.
On October 11, 2005, UNOCHA released a multi-agency appeal for $312
million in urgent humanitarian assistance to earthquake-affected areas of Pakistan.
The appeal was revised to $550 million at a donors meeting on October 26. Despite
the higher-than-expected pledge totals announced at the November 19 meeting in
Islamabad, the U.N. flash appeal was initially underfunded. As of mid-February
2006, the total amount pledged towards the U.N. Flash Appeal was $371 million.91
A breakdown of the appeal by receiving organization is provided in Appendix B.
According to the United Nations, the USG has so far contributed approximately
$28.8 million toward the appeal (see Table 3).
The disparity between overall funding of the relief effort and contributions
toward the U.N. appeal is due to several factors. Many countries, including the USG,
are providing assistance in the form of direct contributions of items such as blankets,
food, and tents, or through the operation of relief flights and logistics support. Much
of this assistance is coordinated directly with the GoP or the Pakistani military. In
addition to direct bilateral assistance, a good deal of funding has been provided to
NGOs operating outside of the U.N. appeal.
While the U.N. Flash Appeal focuses on early recovery efforts (in the initial six
months after the earthquake) the majority of funding pledged by the donor
community is towards longer-term reconstruction efforts and will be addressed in the
Action Plan. There will not be a new appeal as such to fund the activities under the
For the latest pledge numbers, see ReliefWeb’s site: [http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/dbc.nsf/
doc105?OpenForm&rc=3&emid=EQ-2005-000174-PAK]. Note that ReliefWeb’s tally does
not necessarily match that of any given contributing organization, including the United
States, presumably because of delays in recording pledges.
Ahmad, Munir, “Pakistan Says $5.4 Billion in Quake Aid Raised, Surpassing Target at
Donor Conference,” AP, November 19, 2005.
UNOCHA, Consolidated Appeal for South Asia Earthquake Flash Appeal 2005, available
at [http://ocha.unog.ch/fts/reports/daily/ocha_R1_A688___05112221.pdf]. Appeal numbers
are still being revised. UNHCR, for instance, has recently reduced its goal from $30 million
to $17 million.
Action Plan. Rather, concrete proposals will be used to mobilize funding from the
pledges that have not yet translated into real funding by the donors. Consultations
are currently underway with the GoP and various partners, both national and
international. The total funding needs under the Action Plan (targeted for the next
12 months) are yet to be finalized. The needs assessments and programme
formulation are being discussed among the various stakeholders.92
On October 10, 2005 the Pakistani Government requested NATO’s assistance
with the relief operation. The North Atlantic Council approved the air operation on
October 11 and the mission began on October 13. In response to an additional
request from Pakistan on October 21, NATO agreed to send engineers and medical
personnel. NATO’s mission ended on February 1, 2006.93
In its first purely humanitarian mission, NATO contributed to the relief effort
by operating two “airbridges” from Germany and Turkey to fly relief supplies into
Pakistan. NATO flew over 169 relief flights from these two bases, providing nearly
3,500 tons of relief supplies, including blankets, stoves, tents, and food. NATO also
deployed specialist troops (engineers and medical units) from the NATO Response
Force. Teams began to arrive on October 29.94 NATO helicopters lifted more than
1,700 tons of relief supplies in country and evacuated more than 7,600 people;
medical teams treated more than 8,000 patients. Engineers cleared roads, built
shelters and schools, and set up medical centers. In total, the operation involved
approximately 1,000 engineers and supporting staff and 200 medical personnel.
NATO also contributed to the Pakistani Army’s efforts towards “Operation Winter
Race” to assist with the construction of shelters.
NATO’s relief operation had five main elements: 1) coordination of donations
from NATO and partner countries through the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Relief
Coordination Centre (EADRCC); 2) operation of air bridges; 3) operation of
helicopters in country for relief supplies, transportation and evacuation; 4) provision
of medical support; and 5) provision of engineering expertise for rebuilding roads,
schools, medical facilities, etc. The NATO land component in Pakistan was lead by
the Spanish; the NATO air Component in Pakistan came from the French Air
Defense and Operation Command; and NATO Headquarters drew on personnel from
the Joint Force Command Lisbon with staff from NATO’s Supreme Headquarters,
Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).
UNDP February 24, 2006.
For information on the NATO mission
NATO Relief Mission in Pakistan Fact Sheet ([http://www.nato.int/issues/
pakistan_earthquake/051207-factsheet.htm]) and NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response
Coordination Center (EADRCC) Situation Reports. Precise details about each NATO flight
are provided at [http://www.nato.int/shape/news/2005/10/statistics.htm]. See also
Opinion surrounding NATO’s involvement in the relief operation is discussed
below. Issues outstanding include the lessons learned from NATO’s involvement
in this relief operation — for example, what precedent the operation in Pakistan
might have set, whether NATO should provide humanitarian assistance; and whether
this mission was an effective use of resources.95
Issues for Congress
U.S. Image in Pakistan; Effects on War Against Terror
There has been some discussion in the media about the effects of the U.S. relief
effort on Pakistani perceptions of the United States and, more specifically, the U.S.
government. This issue is seen as important because President Musharraf’s
government is a key U.S. ally in the global war on terror. Many high-ranking
members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are believed to remain in the rugged regions
of northwest Pakistan, and the ability of the United States to locate and capture them
likely depends on Pakistan’s cooperation. At the same time, Musharraf’s relationship
with the United States is not supported by a large portion of the Pakistani population.
A widely-cited survey taken by the Pew Center before the earthquake found that 23%
of the Pakistani public had a favorable view of the United States, while 51% had a
favorable impression of Osama bin Laden.96
A more recent systematic public polling of Pakistani opinion on this issue by
Terror Free Tomorrow’s survey conducted between November 14-28, 2005, showed
a significant shift in public opinion. Favorable views of the United States jumped to
46% and support for Osama bin Laden dropped to 33%. Those conducting the poll
believe the shift is a direct result of the provision of U.S. humanitarian assistance to
earthquake victims.97 Some argue that sustaining relief and reconstruction assistance
may prove to be important in creating support for the United States while at the same
time undermining support for global terrorists. The degree to which the United
States receives positive press for its contributions to the earthquake relief effort may
also make it easier for Musharraf to support U.S. anti-terror activity in the region.
However, apparent U.S. missile attacks on Pakistani territory in December 2005
and January 2006, and anger over the February publication in European newspapers
of cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims, reinvigorated anti-Western and antiAmerican sentiments among some segments of the Pakistani populace. Violent
public protests in February appeared to have strong anti-American and anti-
For further information see NATO, “Lessons Learned in Pakistan: NATO Providing
Humanitarian Aid,” March 8, 2006, Stopwatch 3, Debate 2.
Pew Research Center, “Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Wester
Publics,” released July 14, 2005, at [http://pewglobal.org/reports/
display.php?ReportID=248]. Only Jordan had higher approval ratings of Osama bin Laden
(60%) and lower ratings of the United States (21%).
Terror Free Tomorrow, “Poll: Dramatic Change of Public Opinion in the Muslim World,”
Musharraf components, and many analysts believe that Islamist leaders are
manipulating public sentiments to forward their own political goals. Further
disappointment with the United States arose in March with a widespread perception
among Pakistanis that President Bush’s visit to the region made stark their country’s
subordinate position to India with regard to U.S. policy making.98
Late in 2005, several reporters presented anecdotal evidence suggesting that the
United States is reaping something of a “public relations” dividend because of its
involvement. It was reported that U.S. relief efforts in Pakistan had been quite
visible on Pakistani television news broadcasts and thus reached a fairly broad crosssection of the population.99 Reporters’ encounters with Pakistanis living and working
in affected areas also support this. Several individuals made a point of telling the
journalist that they were grateful for Western aid.100 Academics and commentators
as well reported a perceptible change in Pakistani attitudes toward the United
States.101 There were some positive reports in Pakistani media as well, although they
are perhaps thinner than in the American press. The Nation, for instance, printed an
opinion piece praising the United States for its efforts in saving Pakistani lives and
excoriating critics of the United States.102 This latter sentiment, however, appeared
to indicate that a sizable number of Pakistanis remained critical of the United States.
Indeed, “Pakistani officials and political analysts” cautioned that any change in
perceptions might be limited to moderate, urban Pakistanis, and “unlikely to sway the
country’s small core of militants who support Al Qaeda.”103
As noted earlier, some commentators have speculated that the pace of Pakistan’s
response could by implication affect public opinion about the United States, which
is widely seen as supporting the rule of General-cum-President Pervez Musharraf.
The greatest criticism of U.S. involvement appears to come from the Pakistani
political opposition, especially from Islamist parties, one of whose leaders has said
that Pakistan does not need any foreign — including American and NATO —
support.104 Similar complaints about NATO were expressed by the leader of the
opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-N, who worried about the presence of
foreign soldiers on Pakistani territory if “tomorrow we have to fight a war with India
See, for example, Somini Sengupta, “U.S. Gives India Applause, Pakistan a Pat on the
Back,” New York Times, Mar. 5, 2006; “A Dull Affair,” News (Karachi), Mar. 5, 2006.
Lancaster, John, “Quake Aid Helps U.S. Alter Image in Pakistan,” The Washington Post,
October 22, 2005.
Rhode, David, “For Devout Pakistani Muslims, Aid Muddles Loyalties,” The New York
Times, October 26, 2005.
King, Ledyard, “U.S. Response to Pakistan Quake Could Help Image among Muslims,”
Gannett News Service, October 21, 2005.
Khan, A. R., “It is not Charity but a Duty,” The Nation (Pakistan), October 27, 2005.
Rhode, David, op cit.
MMA Secretary General and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Maulana
Fazlur Rehman, quoted in Raja Asghar, “MMA Opposes Nato, US Forces for Quake
Relief,” Dawn, October 29, 2005. It was not clear whether Rehman was speaking on behalf
of the entire opposition or only his own coalition of six Islamic parties.
or any other country.”105 In response to such concerns, Pakistani Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz has gone on record saying that NATO poses no security threat: “They
are here to help us. Even if they are in uniform, it should not be a cause of
concern.”106 Other experts focus on objections to President Musharraf’s decision to
authorize NATO’s relief mission without consultation or approval by the parliament.
This may have led opposition groups to disagree with NATO’s involvement even if
they might otherwise have supported it.107
Burdensharing and Donor Fatigue
Although the United States is the world’s largest provider of foreign assistance
in absolute terms, it is often one of the lowest contributors when measured as a
percentage of its economic capacity. According to the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States provided 0.16% of its
Gross National Income (GNI) in 2004 for Overseas Disaster Assistance (ODA). By
comparison the average of major donors is 0.25%. The percentages for other major
donors are as follows: Japan (0.19%), the United Kingdom (0.36%), France (0.42%)
and Germany (0.28%).
In previous disasters, pledges made by governments have not always resulted
in actual contributions; the earthquake of December 2003 in Bam, Iran, is but one
example raised by the United Nations. Concerning the billions of dollars pledged to
help the victims of the tsunami disaster, there is skepticism whether all these pledges
will be honored. It also cannot be assumed that the funds committed to relief actually
represent new contributions, since the money may previously have been allocated
elsewhere. It will take time for a more complete picture to reveal how the actual
costs of the tsunami disaster will be shared among international donors.108 In the case
of the October South Asia earthquake, Amir Abdulla, WFP Regional Director for the
Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe commented early on that “it is
extremely worrying that the international community — which was so generous after
the Indian Ocean tsunami — has so far failed to come up with an adequate response
to this crisis.” After a slow start, as of mid-February, the United Nations had
received two-thirds of its flash appeal of $550 million.109
Some experts are concerned about funding priorities and resources for other
disaster areas and a real possibility of international donor fatigue. Finding a balance
between burdensharing on the one hand and donor fatigue on the other often results
Acting parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Chaudhry Nisar
Ali Khan, quoted in Amir Wasim, “Govt Criticized for Accepting Nato Forces,” Dawn,
October 26, 2005.
Khan, Iftikhar, “Nato Forces Posing no Security Threat: PM,” Dawn, November 1, 2005.
International Crisis Group, “Pakistan: Political Impact of the Earthquake, Policy
Briefing, March 15, 2006.
James Darcy, “The Indian Ocean Tsunami Crisis: Humanitarian Dimensions,” Overseas
Development Institute, January 11, 2005.
United Nations Humanitarian Information Centre, “Beyond Relief: Transition to
Recovery and Reconstruction,” Country Team, Islamabad, Pakistan, February 24, 2006.
in delay and can negatively impact U.N. operations during emergencies when
immediate funds are required for a response. This question was raised at the U.N.
World Summit in September. Key donor countries pledged $150 million for an
emergency fund to allow the United Nations to respond more quickly to natural
disasters and humanitarian emergencies. The Central Emergency Response Fund
(CERF) is seen by proponents as a way to enable the United Nations to respond more
efficiently, effectively, and consistently to humanitarian crises worldwide.
Competing Aid and Budget Priorities.110 Amid efforts to tackle rising
budget deficits by, among other measures, slowing or reducing discretionary
spending, finding the resources to sustain U.S. aid pledges may be difficult. After
the tsunami disaster, some Members of Congress publicly expressed concern that
funding for tsunami relief and reconstruction, which depleted most worldwide
disaster contingency accounts, could jeopardize resources for subsequent
international disasters or for other aid priorities from which tsunami emergency aid
had been transferred.111 These accounts were fully restored through supplemental
appropriations. At the time, others noted the substantial size of American private
donations for tsunami victims and argued that because of other budget pressures, the
United States did not need to transfer additional aid. The point remains, however,
that when disasters require immediate emergency relief, the Administration may fund
pledges by depleting most worldwide disaster accounts. In order to respond to future
humanitarian crises, however, these resources would need to be replenished or it
could curtail U.S. capacity to respond to other emergencies.
From Relief to Recovery: The Cost of Rebuilding. The earthquake’s
effect on Pakistan’s economy remains to be seen. The majority of the country’s
industry is located in the south, well away from the earthquake zone. For this reason,
some observers believe that the disaster will not have a serious impact on the
Pakistani economy’s impressive growth rate. The World Bank, for instance, has
slightly revised its prediction for Pakistan’s FY2006 growth in Gross Domestic
Product (GDP), from 6.5% to 6.1%.112 Nevertheless, the costs of rebuilding the
damaged infrastructure in the north as well as caring for the millions of affected
Pakistanis are expected to seriously strain the Pakistan government’s capacity. Some
observers have cautioned against overly optimistic projections.113
Transparency. Some Members of Congress have also raised concerns about
transparency of donor contributions, allocation of monies, and monitoring of projects
by the United Nations. The United Nations has said it will improve its financial
tracking and reporting system and Pricewaterhouse Coopers is reportedly assisting
Prepared by (name redacted), Foreign Affairs Specialist.
Elizabeth Becker, “No New Funds Needed For Relief, Bush Aides Say,” New York
Times, January 4, 2005.
The GoP’s initial projection of 7.0% had already been reduced to 6.5% because of lower
than anticipated crop yields. See Asian Development Bank and World Bank, Pakistan 2005
Earthquake Preliminary Damage and Needs Assessment, November 12, 2005, Islamabad,
Pakistan, p. 12.
“Global Economic Prospects,” Business Recorder (Pakistan), November 23, 2005.
in that effort. In responding to international disasters, many contributions are also
made directly to international organizations and non-governmental organizations,
which could raise the same questions about transparency requirements. Moreover,
while earmarks and time limits may ensure greater accountability, they can also add
pressure for organizations to spend contributed funds, sometimes leading to
unnecessary spending, waste and duplicated efforts. Restrictions on funds also often
do not allow flexibility to adapt projects to better meet the changing needs on the
Assessing U.N. Performance
As noted above, the United Nations flash appeal for earthquake relief and
reconstruction remains seriously underfunded. By contrast, an international donors’
conference in Islamabad garnered more pledges than expected. To a certain extent,
this reflects some donors’ preference for providing bilateral rather than multilateral
funding. According to some reports, however, the initial response of some United
Nations agencies to the earthquake was confused and inadequate, prompting donors
to commit their resources to other agencies. More recent reporting indicated that
many U.N. agencies greatly improved their performance and that the overall relief
operation was a success.
The USAID DART has been critical of some U.N. agencies for an inadequate
initial response to the earthquake. Some of the criticism has been structural: it is not
clear, DART members say, that the United Nations’ “cluster approach” (see above)
is the most effective method of disaster management. A problem may stem from the
sometimes competing demands placed on the cluster leaders: liaising with the host
government and gathering and disseminating data, as well as responding to
immediate needs and coordinating relief activity. There has been some question
about the ability of individual agencies to fulfill all of these functions with limited
staffing under emergency conditions.115 The cluster system is being discussed at the
Some of the DART’s criticism, however, reflected a more specific concern that
several U.N. agencies were inadequate in their response to the earthquake, prompting
USAID, in some cases, to look to NGOs instead of the U.N. system to carry out relief
activities. According to the DART, some U.N. agencies were slow to realize the
severity of the disaster and to allocate sufficient human and financial resources to the
relief effort. The DART singled out UNHCR, the WFP, UNJLC, and IOM (not part
of the U.N. system but a close collaborator) for particular criticism. The following
paragraph summarizes some of the DART’s reporting early on in the relief operation.
UNHCR has been thin on the ground and remains uncertain about its mandate
as head of the camp management cluster. DART members reported visiting camps
with no visible UNHCR presence. The WFP, which has performed adequately in its
role as head of the logistics cluster, has done a worse job in the food cluster. The
Edward Clay, “Lessons for Life,” The Guardian Review, January 12, 2005.
Author’s interview with members of USAID DART, November 22, 2005.
agency’s staff were slow to gather information on NGO activities, leading at times
to a duplication of aid delivery efforts. The UNJLC, charged with coordinating
transportation, was also slow to ramp up its operations, leading again to a duplication
of aid deliveries. Finally, IOM has failed to provide effective leadership of the
shelter cluster. Like UNHCR, its staff have appeared unsure of its mandate, and have
adopted a facilitative, rather than a leadership, role.116
The DART team spoke more favorably of UNICEF and the WHO, both of
which, despite rocky starts, quickly built up capacity and assumed leadership of their
respective clusters. Both agencies were singled out for effective coordination and
The DART itself points out that some of its concerns cannot be attributed to
U.N. underperformance. To begin with, the DART notes that the best-performing
agencies are also the better-funded ones, and states that better funding of the other
agencies might positively affect their performance. Beyond this, some concerns have
reflected the constraints of the United Nations’ particular operational mandate rather
than failure on its part. Unlike some NGOs, which may operate more informally, the
United Nations must carefully coordinate all of its activities with the Pakistani
government. Thus, to the extent that the GoP’s initial response to the earthquake was
slow and confused, this may have affected U.N. performance as well.118 Sources
familiar with U.N. operations, including members of the DART, later reported that
the United Nations’ performance improved markedly, demonstrated in part by the
success of relief efforts over the winter.
There does not appear to have been much public criticism of the United
Nations’ response in the media. The DART’s concerns have largely aired within the
USG. Perhaps for this reason, the United Nations has not issued any public response
to such charges. Privately, however, UNHCR officials have acknowledged some
missteps, especially in the early days of the relief effort. They were slow to mobilize
some assets and reorganize their staff in the field. They have pointed out, however,
that most organizations operating in Pakistan faced difficulties at that time. The
GoP’s initial disorganization had a ripple effect through the humanitarian
community. Despite such difficulties, UNHCR officials note that they immediately
opened up their warehouses, releasing thousands of tents and other supplies to the
GoP.119 UNHCR also reminds visitors to its website that its mandate is to care for
refugees and other victims of “man-made” disasters. Its involvement in the
earthquake relief operation is a function of its logistical and operational capabilities
in Pakistan, not its legal or organizational mandate.120 UNHCR as well as many of
“Six Weeks after Pakistan’s Earthquake: Assessing the UN’s Performance,” Department
of State unclassified cable, Islamabad 17311, November 22, 2005.
Author’s interview with DART members, November 22, 2005, and with staff at
Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, November 22, 2005.
Author’s November 23, 2005, interview with officials at Department of State’s PRM
Bureau, who are in daily contact with UNHCR officials.
its sister agencies have also argued that they have been hamstrung by poor funding.121
With the conclusion of the relief operations and launch of the recovery phase
scheduled to take place in mid-April 2006, the final update of this report will include
a review of lessons learned.
Details are at [http://www.reliefweb.int].
Appendix A: Maps of Disaster Area
Map 1. The Affected Area
Map 2. The Epicenter and Political Boundaries
Source: USAID, October 13, 2005, available at [http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/
Appendix B: U.N. Flash Appeal
Australian Aid International
Action Contre la Faim/USA
Aga Khan Foundation
Catholic Relief Svcs
Food and Agriculture Organization
Int’l Labor Organization
Int’l Organization for Migration
Int’l Rescue Committee
ISCOS (Trade Union Institute for Development Cooperation )
ISDR (Int’l Strategy for Disaster Reduction)
Mercy Corps Int’l
MDM (Medecins du Monde)
Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Save the Children Alliance
Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS)
UN Environment Program (UNEP)
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)
Source: U.N. Consolidated Appeal (available at [http://www.reliefweb.int]).
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