ISLAMABAD (AFP) -United Nations aid chiefs painted the grimmest picture yet of survivors” needs two weeks after Pakistan”s massive quake, warning that time was the scarcest commodity before winter comes.
The relief effort needs up to 200,000 more tents, 50 more helicopters and extra sanitation equipment, and has to get enough food near cut-off mountain areas to feed one million people for six months, officials said on Saturday.
"The scarcest commodity at this time is time. Money cannot buy time, and the weather is against us and winter is closing in," Jan Vandemoortele, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan, told a news conference in Islamabad.
"The immensity of the disaster is still becoming clear daily."
Vandemoortele said the UN needed the world”s continued help to stop thousands more victims of the October 8 quake dying from cold, hunger and disease.
"Will we succeed? We can only say that we will do our best and we are in the hands of the international community, we have to keep the pipeline alive," he added.
Vandemoortele said the main priority was tents and emergency shelter, followed by water and sanitation, heating, blankets and sleeping bags, medical teams for remote mountain areas
"And helicopters, lots of helicopters, all types of helicopters," he added.
"We have to raise the pace and scale-up the action on the ground. The NATO helicopters will help a lot but we need more," he said.
NATO on Friday approved plans to send up to 1,000 troops and a small number of helicopters to Pakistan as part of a beefed-up aid package, after the UN”s top aid chief lobbied the alliance to do more to help.
The quake killed at least 51,000 people in Pakistan and 1,300 in Indian Kashmir, as well as injuring more than 74,000 people and leaving over three million homeless.
Human waste in affected areas was a "ticking timebomb", said Bill Fellows of the United Nations Children”s Fund, which is coordinating water and sanitation for the relief operation.
"If we don”t get sanitation systems in place we are running the risk of a potential second humanitarian disaster, a humanitarian disaster that we can still avoid but time is running out," he told the news conference.
German Valdavia of the UN”s World Food Programme said weather conditions would change after November 15 and they needed to get enough food to forward areas by then so they could then supply remote regions through the winter.
"Our task is to feed one million people every day for the next six months," he said.
Tents for people whose homes were flattened by the disaster remained in short supply, Chris Lom of the International Office of Migration told the conference.
Between 337,000 and 541,000 tents were needed and so far there were 60,000 from the international community and the same number from the Pakistani government, with another 200,000 "in the pipeline".
"In other words there is a remaining need for for tents in addition to those in the pipeline of between 50,000 to 200,000 tents."
"We need more tents and we need better logistics if lives are going to be saved," added Lom.