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UK Jews help Kashmir relief

by: Pak Tribune staff - Last updated: 2005-12-22



A Jewish humanitarian organisation has teamed up with a Kashmiri relief group to assist in the construction of much-needed housing for the survivors of the South Asian earthquake.

The catastrophic earthquake that struck Kashmir on October 8th, is estimated to have claimed the lives of 100,000 people, the entire housing stock in the region has been completely wiped out, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

World Jewish Aid, a London-based charity affiliated to World Jewish Relief - has pledged £35,000, for the construction of about 75-80 houses in the District of Bagh, and surrounding villages. These houses will be built in collaboration with Human Aid Focus.

World Jewish Aid is a renowned and widely-respected charitable organisation, it acts on behalf of the Jewish community in the UK, providing emergency and development aid to those in dire need throughout the world, regardless of race, religion, nationality, and ethnicity.

It has been in the forefront of relief work mainly in Africa, Asia, Eastern and Central Europe. Before the earthquake struck on October 8th, Human Aid Focus was the only charity operating in Bagh, delivering aid to promote education, health services, and basic skills courses for the people requiring such assistance in the area.

The charity had begun work on the construction of a 100-room general hospital in Bagh. However, the emphasis has shifted as a consequence of the earthquake, Human Aid Focus’ priority is now centered upon rehabilitation, and seeking to provide adequate shelter to the survivors of the disaster.

Human Aid Focus plans to build up to 200 houses, 75-80 of them being constructed with financial assistance forthcoming from World Jewish Aid. Human Aid Focus has so far raised £90,000 - including the £35,000 pledged by the World Jewish Aid charity. It is hoped that the bulk of this money will be spent building homes for the homeless.

Human Aid Focus has consulted widely with NGOs working in the region, local village committees, communities, and most importantly the survivors themselves. As a result of these consultations, the houses will consist of 2 rooms, and 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom - sufficient for a family of 5-6. The projected cost of each house will be 45,000 rupees, and the construction work is expected to be completed within 3 months.

Maqsood Sheikh, the Chief Executive Officer of the Human Aid Focus charity - and himself a survivor of the earthquake - welcomed the support offered by World Jewish Aid. He said: "It is indeed heartening to witness the coming together of diverse communities from around the world, responding to the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the earthquake in October."

"The donation provided by the World Jewish Aid charity is testament to this fact, and is evidence of the deep concern of the Jewish community in the UK, as they hasten to assist their brethren in humanity. The earthquake survivors have reacted warmly to the news of the generosity of the Jewish community, and it is hoped that this gesture will go some way in removing the many misconceptions and prejudices that still exist between different social and faith groups.

"We must strive to bear in mind that the people struggling to survive in the earthquake zone have suffered terrible losses. It is therefore incumbent upon each and every one of us, to do our utmost in trying to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, using whatever means are at our disposal to enable these devastated communities to recover, and regain control over their lives.

"We must be on hand to offer constant and continuing help to the people of Kashmir. I would urge everyone - of all faiths and backgrounds - to get involved in the relief effort, so that together we may hope to alleviate the great suffering of the survivors of this tragedy. I would also like to express my profound gratitude to all those people who - individually and collectively - have sought to assist us in our desperate hour of need. Rest assured that they will forever remain in our hearts."

Commenting on providing relief to the South Asian earthquake survivors, World Jewish Aid Chairman, Tony Leifer said: "This is precisely the type of project we support and through this, offer the practical help of the British Jewish Community, which feels deep sympathy for those suffering as a result of this disaster. We look forward to providing further assistance to reestablish lives and communities with medium and longer term projects in the region."

Reproduced with permission: Pak Tribune