John Kerry visited the earthquake ravaged region of Pakistan today, meeting with leaders and survivors of the quake, and distributing school uniforms to children. The tent village Kerry visited is funded partly by both the U.S. and Cuba.
Kerry’s visit came in the midst of warnings that “heavy snow would blanket the quake zone over the next four to five days, possibly triggering avalanches along the jagged peaks and promising more misery for the 3.5 million people left homeless by the Oct. 8 quake.”
Kerry toured a camp housing some 18,000 people who survived the 7.6-magnitude quake. Expressing compassion to survivor’s Kerry said, “We’re sorry you have to go through this.”
John Kerry, (surrounded by tight security) center in background in yellow jacket, visited a camp of Oct 8, 2005 earthquake survivors in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan, Saturday, Jan 14, 2006. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
John Kerry, walks to meet Pakistani children who survived Oct 8, 2005 earthquake at a camp in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
Striding between neat rows of plastic tents erected with the help of the United States, Cuba and China, he also visited a makeshift school for 3,000 children. Many of the youngsters had never been to school before coming to Meira.
“It’s more impressive in many ways that what I expected,” said Kerry, who is on a 12-day trip that includes stops in Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan and Iraq. “It’s also really impressive to see the cooperative effort of countries from around the world.”
Pakistani children who survived Oct 8, 2005 massive earthquake wait to see visiting U.S. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, unseen, at a camp in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
During his stop at the camp, which is alongside a fast-flowing river that cuts a jagged canyon between craggy cliffs, the senator handed out blue school uniforms to boys and girls sitting in the dirt before the tents that serve as classrooms.
The U.S. Agency for International Development paid for the uniforms.
Many camp residents expressed thanks for the aid, but are worried about rebuilding when they return to their wrecked homes in the next few months.
Mohammed Sarfraz, deputy mayor of the camp, told Kerry it was crucial for foreign donors to keep the aid coming after the snows melt and survivors go home.
“We need to live like human beings,” Sarfraz said. “There’s nothing left there but dust and rubble.”
The photos from Kerry’s tour of the refugee camp speak volumes, from the look of hope and curiosity on the children’s face to the look of joy on John Kerry’s face when speaking to a young Pakistani boy…
Pakistani children who survived Oct 8, 2005 massive earthquake wait to receive their school uniforms from visiting U.S. Senator John Kerry, unseen, at a camp in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
Pakistani children and a young man who survived the Oct. 8, 2005 earthquake look at visiting Senator John F. Kerry, unseen, from their tent provided by USAID in the Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
Hat tip to Whometense on DU for this photo.
In related news the U.N. reports that “Cold and disease are constant threats in Pakistan’s earthquake zone” however, “if donations are sustained, the more than three million survivors should make it through the winter.”
“One hundred days into the process all is not well,” chief UN relief coordinator Jan Vandemoortele told a news conference marking 100 days since the quake killed more than 73,000 people.
With so much happening here in America on the political front, we tend to put aside other concerns. I hope that John Kerry’s visit to the quake ravaged region of Pakistan helps to put this dire situation back into the perspective of American politicians and the American people.
Somewhere between “10,000 and 15,000 children had been orphaned in the quake but virtually all of them were being cared for by members of their extended families, reports UNICEF’s director in Pakistan, Omar Abdi.