Eleven days after the first of two severe earthquakes hit the Awaran area of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) still has not received authorization to work in the affected area, despite daily discussions with the Pakistani government.
“Since the first earthquake struck on September 24, MSF has been in dialogue with different officials with a view to getting teams and supplies into the Awaran area,” explains MSF operations manager Chris Lockyear. “Yet the government of Pakistan has still not granted us authorisation to enter. Eleven days is too long for people to have to wait for humanitarian aid. It’s crucial that the authorities allow impartial humanitarian assistance into the Awaran area in order to respond to any unmet needs.”
For more than a week, MSF teams have been ready to deliver medical and humanitarian assistance in Awaran, including care for trauma victims, primary health care, and water and sanitation support. Meanwhile, reports suggest that there are still unmet humanitarian needs in areas that government aid efforts have not been able to reach.
Balochistan province, where MSF is already working, is one of the most impoverished areas of Pakistan and has some of the worst health indicators in the country. Malnutrition rates are already high in a number of areas, making children especially vulnerable to illnesses like malaria and those brought on by poor hygienic conditions.
“The health indicators are already poor in Balochistan,” says Lockyear. “We’re concerned that for the people there. The impact of the earthquake will have made the situation worse.”