ISLAMABAD, Oct 31: Nato forces are working against time to bring aid to disaster victims, commander of the Nato disaster relief team, Vice Admiral John Stufflebeem said here on Monday.
“We’re working against the clock to bring aid to as many people as we can before the severe Himalayan winter is upon us. That’s what the real enemy is here - time,” he said in a press statement.
Nato relief efforts took several important steps forward on Monday as teams began moving into the disaster area and others arrived in the country.
Nato is delivering aid to the Pakistani people to meet a wide range of critical needs as relief personnel arrived over the weekend.
More medical personnel arrived at the Chaklala Airbase on Sunday as the initial elements of a multi-national Nato field hospital led by personnel from the Netherlands continued moving to the Bagh area to set up a medical facility there.
The Nato hospital will provide a variety of medical services, including surgery, and will soon be staffed by more than 150 medical professionals from several nations, including the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
About 60 per cent of the field hospital personnel are female, enhancing Nato’s ability to provide culturally appropriate care to women affected by the earthquake.
In Lahore, the first 85-person element of a Nato engineering battalion led by the Spanish Army also arrived early Sunday. The Nato engineers will work to clear roads, purify water, support construction of temporary shelters, dig wells and clear ground for shelter camps. An important piece of the Nato Response Force, this unit includes personnel from Spain, Lithuania, Poland and Italy.
The first part of the engineer battalion will begin working in the next few days, also in the Bagh area. Additional engineers will continue to arrive via air and sea throughout November.
The first of four Nato CH-53 Sikorsky heavy-lift helicopters from the German Air Force arrived at Chaklala Airbase on Monday, expanding Nato’s ability to move supplies and personnel within Pakistan. These helicopters will be used to bring relief supplies to remote and inaccessible areas. These helicopters can also move relief personnel into affected areas or conduct medical evacuation flights.
The remaining three choppers will arrive by mid-week and begin operations by the end of the week.
Five additional Nato air bridge flights from Turkey arrived on Monday carrying relief supplies from the UNHCR, including tents and blankets.
Nato’s air bridge has already delivered about 600 tons of supplies from bases in Nato nations Turkey and Germany, including tents, blankets, stoves and more to support tens of thousands of earthquake victims.