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Remembering the 2005 Pakistan Earthquake

5th October, 2015

In a series of features this week marking the 10th anniversary of the South Asia Earthquake, we look back at the response by Islamic Help and its supporters which provided emergency aid and relief to tens of thousands of people.

On October 8, 2005, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Kashmir. It left more than 80,000 people dead and an estimated 4 million homeless.The quake was among the worst to ever hit the region. Centred about 12 miles north-east of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, it caused extensive destruction.

Parts of towns and villages slipped off cliffs, the town of Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) was almost completely destroyed and the effects were felt in India and Afghanistan.

It sparked what was then Islamic Help’s biggest relief programme which led to tens of thousands of people being helped with emergency food, water, medical aid, shelter and the restoration of schools and mosques among other projects.

Volunteers from the UK held fundraising activities for the emergency aid and flew out to the affected regions to work with the United Nations and other agencies. Relief camps were set up in devastated areas and hundreds of truckloads of aid supplied thousands of displaced families with emergency food, clothing and shelter.

Tent villages provided temporary accommodation for more than 900 families in 8 stricken areas, while another major programme saw 10,000 iron sheets used in the construction of homes to help victims cope with the winter.

Medical facilities were provided in the form of emergency centres and dispensaries, while doctors and medical staff from across Europe responded by joining in the effort to help treat thousands of injured.

With the earthquake having hit during Ramadan, special arrangements were made for the distribution of Eid gifts, with volunteers from the UK and Pakistan joining in the distributions.

At Eid ul Adha, Qurbani meat was provided to 10,000 families, and the spiritual aspect of the relief effort continued with Islamic Help’s part in the restoration of damaged mosques and schools and scholarships allowing students to continue their education.

PARTNERS: Islamic Help’s relief efforts following the South Asia earthquake involved working with a number of national and international agencies, including the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and the Red Crescent.

There was invaluable support from the Hazrat Sultan Bahu Trust in the UK and Pakistan, which collected 35 truckloads of aid and provided hundreds of volunteers for the distribution and support efforts.

Among the most prominent supporters of Islamic Help’s efforts was the Birmingham-based TYGA Youth Forum (The Young Generation’s Association) whose volunteers manned donation lines, packed goods and raised awareness of the situation.

TYGA also involved hundreds of young people in fundraising activities for the relief effort. These included a ‘Sleep Outside’ night with fundraisers braving a cold November night to sleep in cardboard boxes; a 17-mile sponsored walk; sales of custom-made wristbands and a 500-mile cycle ride from Inverness to Birmingham.

The dedication of TYGA’s young members raised £50,000 towards the cause and in the summer of 2016, in conjunction with Islamic Help, 15 of them flew to the stricken areas in Pakistan to spend 15 days with young victims and improve their quality of life with the aid they had raised.

Their efforts were recognised by the Pakistani government, with the then Minister of Religious Affairs Ijaz-ul-Haq (son of the late President of Pakistan General Zia-ul-Haq) presenting them with shields. On their return to the UK, they received achievement certificates for their services to the local and international community by the then Leader of the Opposition David Cameron.

Islamic Help itself was honoured for its work in June 2006 with a Services to Humanity medal (left) from the Pakistan government. The Tamgha-Eisaar award was conferred by the then Pakistani President Gen Parvez Musharraf on Islamic Help chairman Mohammad Masood Alam Khan in recognition of the charity’s humanitarian work following the earthquake.

Tomorrow: The relief effort - from food and water to taking over a hospital wing with surgeons flown in from across Europe.