The U.N. said Monday more than 100,000 Pakistani survivors of the region's huge Oct. 8 earthquake still have not received any form of aid, and a leading British charity warned of a health crisis from poor sanitation at squalid tent camps for victims.
Families not directly hit by the quake also are in jeopardy, especially in villages that have been isolated by landslides unleashed by the 7.6-magnitude tremor or its more than 1,000 aftershocks, the U.N.'s World Food Program said.
About 70,000 families have homes intact but are unable able to reach provisions they need ahead of the Himalayan region's fierce winter, said Farman Ullah, the World Food Program's senior food monitor. About 100,000 people directly hit by the quake have not received aid of any kind, the WFP said.
The United Nations has said 3.3 million people were made homeless by the 7.6-magnitude quake, which killed about 80,000 people, most of them Pakistan's portion of Kashmir and its North West Frontier Province, as well as 1,350 in India's portion of Kashmir.
Officials warn of more deaths with the onset of winter and have asked those living in high-altitude hamlets to move to lower-lying areas to escape the cold and receive aid.
But British charity Oxfam said there was too much focus on reaching villagers in the mountains, warning that deaths among refugees living in makeshift tent cities could surpass those in the hills if camp conditions do not improve.
"The thousands of people living in remote villages are in serious danger, especially once the snows come, but the plight of those who are living in camps has not received the same attention," Oxfam quake relief head Jane Cocking said.
"Unless conditions are improved in these camps, diseases like cholera could spread like wildfire. If disease does break out in the camps, the number of deaths could far exceed those in danger in their villages," she said.
Oxfam said many of the large, informal camps have been erected with "inadequate water and sanitation facilities."
The U.N. and other agencies have set up huge tent villages in lower-lying areas of Kashmir and northwestern Pakistan. Authorities said 123 tent villages have been set up.
Pakistan's army said 334,000 tents have been distributed, just over half the amount that the U.N. says are needed, but it was not immediately clear how many of them were winter-ready.
Mercy Corps, a U.S.-based medical relief organization, said its workers reported snowfall late last week in several areas of northwestern Pakistan, and that respiratory ailments were on the rise there because of lower temperatures, reports the AP. I.L.
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