Worried about tomorrow while freezing today

Faqir Hussain Shah’s weary eyes follow the queue of people receiving relief deliveries in Narra, a small town on the bank of the Kunhar River near Balakot. With snows and rains making life more difficult in the unplanned camp where his family is now living, Faqir has arrived to join the 425 other villagers picking up winterization kits to help keep their families dry and warm. With two more months of winter left in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the help is welcomed, but worries remain.

Faqir, 73, is worried about his 12-member family that migrated 50 kilometres to Narra from the Kaghan Valley after the devastating October 8 earthquake. The migration might have helped his family to avoid the heavy snowfall but not the sporadic rains drenching the tents where his children and grandchildren struggle each day against the freezing temperatures.

As part of its efforts to ensure earthquake survivors have shelter that protects against snow and rain, IOM has been distributing winterization kits provided by the British governments Department for International Development (DFID) in Narra. The winterization kits included three blankets, two plastic sheets and rope to help revive wet and falling tents under the intermittent rains in the area.

Faqir has been living in an unplanned tent camp in Narra with his two sons and their families for over three months. He worries about his grandchildren’s health under these difficult circumstances.

“We huddle together and cover ourselves with a few blankets before going to sleep in one of the tents. One of my sons, who is newly-wed, and his wife are using a separate tent,” says Faqir. “Crowding in a tent before sleep gives us a sense of security, but no night passes without a shudder. It will help us if we get more blankets.”

Like Faqir, hundreds of thousands of people are living in tented villages across the earthquake zone. It’s been a difficult life after the earthquake destroyed their homes and their businesses.

“I know that without proper arrangements we will be spending this winter shivering and trembling,” says Faqir. “We are already worried about next winter, and what accommodation we’ll have by then.”