Christian Groups Appeal for Aid Amid Turmoil in Pakistan

The death toll from Saturday’s 7.6-magnitude quake in South Asia surged past 20,000 by Monday morning with some officials estimating over 30,000 lives lost from Pakistan’s worst earthquake in 100 years. With hunger, despair, and threat of disease looming over the 2.5 million estimated people left homeless, governments and Christian organizations around the world appealed for immediate aid.

"So many children are missing. Parents are in shock as they do not know whether they survived after the quake hit. This is so extremely painful, I just cannot describe it by words," said Igaz Ahmed, a World Vision assessment team leader who witnessed the monster quake, in a news release.

World Vision and other relief organizations planned to spend Monday providing medical and food aid to the stranded.

According to World Vision, about $150,000 in emergency provisions will reach northern communities by noon today, including 1,000 tents, 1,000 quilts, 2,000 burial cloths and 1,000 water containers. The organization also plans to purchase $350,000 in supplies today with the items planned for delivery by evening.

In the U.S., President Bush pledged financial support and eight helicopters to assist in aid delivery and said he told Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that “we want to help in any way we can.” An American plane full of relief supplies landed at an air base near Pakistan’s capital on Monday.

Meanwhile, in Geneva, the United Nations urgently appealed for donations, including for at least 200,000 winterized tents.

One of the strongest Christian organizations in the area, Church World Service, already set up medical centers to provide shots for the survivors.

"CWS Mansehra medical teams are out in the community providing tetanus shots to everyone around. And one of our assessment teams managed to get up to Batagram in northwestern Pakistan this morning,” said CWS Senior Program Manager Shama Mall.

"The situation is still very chaotic here. Right now everyone is focusing on rescue efforts, but those have been made difficult by the heavy rains and hail that hit some of the affected areas,” Mall said.

According to the Associated Press, planes full of supplies arrived from Turkey, Britain, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Russia, India, China and Germany also offered assistance.

A similar international response was felt among Christian organizations. According to CWS which is an ecumenical relief agency that works through dozens of denominations, “initial financial commitments from organizations in the U.S. and Europe” already came in.

Both the CWS and World Vision have made fundraising appeals for the earthquake. To give to world vision, visit: www.worldvision.org. To support Church World Service, visit: www.churchworldservice.org.