November 7, 2005

UN calls for $42 million Asia quake aid this month

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations, struggling to raise
$550 million for a medium-term program to help victims of the
South Asian earthquake, appealed on Monday for $42.4 million to
fund urgent needs in the region this month.

The call was issued by the world body's Assistant Emergency
Relief Coordinator Yvette Stevens at a meeting with diplomats
from donor countries and representatives of U.N. and
independent agencies involved in the aid effort.

Relief workers in the region of the quake, which struck
parts of northern Pakistan and Pakistani and
Indian-administered Kashmir on October 8, say they fear many
thousands of survivors now without shelter could die as winter
moves in.

"This is what we need here and now to cover the next 30
days," officials attending the closed-door gathering quoted
Stevens as saying. "The acute emergency phase of this operation
is not yet over."

Pakistan's ambassador to the UN's European headquarters,
Masood Khan, told the meeting: "If we do not intervene
aggressively now, many lives will be lost," according to the

Over 73,000 are reported to have been killed by the quake
in Pakistani Kashmir and 1,300 in the Indian-administered part
of the divided region. Hundreds of thousands lost their homes.

Officials in Geneva said that, as of Monday, only $83.8
million had been received in cash and legal commitments from
donor countries -- mainly the world's richer nations -- to meet
an overall U.N. appeal for $550 million launched in

Together with pledges, the total response was $132.4
million, an increase of only $1 million over the past week.

More money is urgently needed as aid workers on the spot
have warned of a second disaster in the making unless there is
a faster flow of shelter, food and medical aid to the region.

Stevens told Monday's meeting that providing shelter was
the number one priority at present, especially for some 200,000
people living in high valleys above the snow line.

The $42.4 million was intended to be part of the general
appeal, officials said. Of this money, just under $18 million
would be earmarked for the UN's refugee agency UNHCR for
setting up and managing camps for the homeless across the quake
region before snow begins to fall.