Oxfam is distributing relief items to survivors of a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit northwestern China on April 14.
The quake struck Yushu County in southeastern Qinghai Province, killing more than 600 people, injuring more than 9,000, and leaving about 100,000 other homeless after toppling 15,000 residential buildings.
In the first distribution, Oxfam gave out blankets for 2,000 people in a temporary camp set up in a race course in the town of Jiegu in Yushu County. About 20,000 people are living in the camp, and the needs are urgent.
“The sanitation is deteriorating in the temporary camp,” said Aman Yee, deputy program manager of the rural development and disaster management team for Oxfam Hong Kong. “People are defecating in the open, litter is piling up, and there is a real risk of disease. Oxfam will work to improve the situation by running sessions on basic hygiene information.
With sponsorship from Sichuan Airlines, Oxfam flew in blankets for 2,000 more people from its warehouse in Yunnan to Xining, the capital of Qinghai.
“Survivors in tents urgently need blankets to stay warm, to stay alive,” said Yee.
An Oxfam team from the organization’s office in Chengdu, Sichuan, is now
in Shiqu, a Sichuan county also badly hit by the earthquake. Dividing into three groups, the team provided goods such as blankets to 2,000 residents spread across Shang La Xiu, Xia La Xiu, and Long Bao.
“Shiqu is 13,963 feet above sea level, much higher than Yushu, Qinghai (about 12,467 feet),” said Zhai Fan, manager of the rural development and disaster management team of Oxfam Hong Kong.
Oxfam has also arranged to have 600 tents flown to Qinghai for distribution in remote areas.
Oxfam’s initial plan calls for spending $258,000 on relief and rehabilitation projects in the wake of this current disaster. The organization Oxfam has assisted in previous emergencies in Qinghai, such as the massive snowstorms in 1997 and 2008. In Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi, Oxfam has a five-year rehabilitation plan in effect following the 2008 earthquake.