Relief Agencies Respond to Plea for 104,000 Newly Discovered Quake Victims

A newly discovered tribe of 104,000 people are just now receiving assistance in the wake of last October's Pakistan Earthquake. World Vision and Pakistani aid agency Organization for Development Coordination (ODC) are answering the devastated community's desperate call for help – a plea that had not been heard until recently.

Tribal leaders in the Kala Daka (Black Mountain) region beyond Pakistan's North West Frontier Province had to travel through frigid temperatures on a long journey of more than 40 miles to find help for the more than 100,000 people suffering from the quake disaster. No knowledge of the communities had been available until now, according to World Vision.

"Our priority is to get much needed aid to those undiscovered communities as soon as possible," said Chris McDonald of World Vision in a released statement.

The first of the humanitarian aid including food, tents, blankets and other relief supplies is being rushed today to the communities which have been self-governing for centuries. Aid will be given to nearly 13,000 tribal households who are at risk from exposure and disease.

"World Vision is able to respond immediately to the tribal leaders' appeal for help because we have operated in this region for over three years and have demonstrated expertise in responding to emergencies locally," said McDonald.

The tribe adds to the millions of people who are still suffering after the Oct. 8 temblor that killed some 75,000. Winterized tents and makeshift shelters provided and built by church, Christian and humanitarian aid organizations have kept quake survivors safe from the severe cold during this year's harsh winter.

The Black Mountain region is a forbidden area to outsiders and residents are suspicious especially of Westerners. There is no record of Western contact in the area since 1888. ODC, however, has worked with tribes in neighboring Afghanistan and gained the trust of the tribal leaders and thus have been able to negotiate route security for the relief operations. World Vision will work alongside the Pakistan aid agency, providing core relief teams and setting up aid distribution points.

"Our staff on the ground has worked hard to establish strong relationships with local organizations, community leaders, national government and the military," said McDonald. "This has given us credibility and access to remote areas."

Since the Oct. 8 quake, World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization, has provided over 104,800 people with emergency non-food items, 57,784 people with 1,249 metric tons of food supplies, 8,199 families with shelter and more than 12,000 school children with school kits.