Representatives of key donor nations were gathering Wednesday for a summit to raise money for quake-devastated Pakistan, as international relief officials warned that only weeks remained to reach hundreds of thousands of people before the winter snow cuts them off in remote Himalayan villages.
The meeting comes as aftershocks continue to rattle the region after the massive Oct. 8 earthquake. A magnitude-5.2 aftershock shook Islamabad, the northwestern city of Peshawar and the quake-hit town of Mansehra on Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Despite fresh appeals and warnings of a second wave of deaths, the United Nations has said it has received less than 30 percent of the US$312 million (euro261 million) it needs to help the victims. Pakistan has said rebuilding the area will cost US$5 billion (euro4.2 billion).
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan invited officials to attend a high-level donor conference in Geneva on Wednesday to mobilize additional financial support.
"Catastrophe looms large," said Rashid Khalikov, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in this destroyed city. "The complexity and magnitude are such that everybody should contribute" at the donor conference, he said. "The message is that everybody who is contributing should not just pledge, but make their contributions right away so that we can benefit from that and put this money to very good use ... that is the way we can save lives."
Aid workers have just five weeks to get six months' worth of food supplies into the most remote areas of Pakistan before they are cut off, according to the U.N. World Food Program.
On Tuesday, the European Union proposed that member nations come up with an additional US$96 million (euro80 million), on top of the US$16.3 million (euro13.6 million) already dispensed to Pakistan for emergency disaster release.
With temperatures already dipping below freezing, the world has come up with just a fraction of the tents needed to house the suffering.
An estimated 3.3 million people have been left homeless by the quake, and despite a huge international relief effort, fears are growing that vulnerable communities could face a new disaster when winter arrives in a few weeks, reports the AP.