Seeking Shelter

Christians scramble to aid earthquake victims before worst of winter hits.
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Evangelical ministries are hurriedly responding to Operation Winter Race, a U.N. effort to gather and distribute aid to Kashmir and Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province before snow and ice cut off devastated mountain villages from transport trucks and helicopters.

A magnitude 7.6 earthquake and aftershocks devastated these regions on October 8. By mid-November, the U.N. reported more than 87,000 dead and 100,000 injured in about 11,500 square miles of some of the world's most rugged terrain. Len Stitt, director of Shelter Now Pakistan, said at least as many people as died in the earthquake may now perish from illness and exposure to harsh winter weather. Children are most vulnerable.

In the Himalayan foothills, villages in the inaccessible Khagan Valley cling to mountainsides. One evangelical physician working in the region said that by early November, about 80 of these communities had not yet seen a single aid worker. Landslides destroyed roads and entire villages. Relief-bearing helicopters that could ferry victims to hospitals had no place to land. Some 3 million people are homeless, the U.N. reports.

The evangelical doctor described rampant misery in makeshift communities. The doctor said surgeons have amputated numerous limbs because many victims could not access healthcare until 10 or more days after the earthquake. Hundreds of children have been orphaned. World Vision has focused on children with their Child Friendly Space tents, which include toys and games.

Stitt said that Shelter Now has supplied 8,500 tents equipped with stoves, blankets, and mattresses. As Pakistan's supply of traditional canvas tents has dwindled, Shelter Now has employed 54 Pakistanis in unaffected Peshawar to build 1,200 Quonset-hut-style ...

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