UN refugee agency, Pakistan team up to start radio show for quake survivors

Reporters interview Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed

20 July 2006 – Compensation, relocation and livelihood opportunities for survivors of the massive quake that rocked Pakistan last October will be discussed on a radio programme launched by the United Nations refugee agency and Pakistan’s Government to update people displaced by the disaster on issues and policies affecting their return and recovery.

The low literacy rate in some areas means that radio is the most immediate and accessible medium," said Kilian Kleinschmidt, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) emergency coordinator for the earthquake operation. “But the programme should not turn into a ‘complaint’ forum. It will take a balanced approach to legitimate problems and queries, to inform the wider public about the situation on the ground and the enormous task of rebuilding shattered lives.”

“Radio, being one of the most powerful mediums of communication, can not only effectively disseminate timely information, but can also be one of the major sources of behavioural change,” said Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed, deputy chairman of the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority.

He added that the effective and smooth flow of information to people affected by the massive 8 October quake – which killed more than 70,000 people across the Kashmir region – is one of the Authority’s main priorities so that those affected can get maximum benefit from the government's programmes.

The daily half-hour show, coordinated by UNHCR and the Authority’s media wing, will contain interviews with government policy-makers, reports from quake-hit areas and interviews with aid workers, returnees and people still living in relief camps.

Every Sunday evening, there will be a 90-minute live programme featuring a panel of government officials or other experts responding to questions or complaints by victims of the quake.

To maximise the reach of the radio programme, UNHCR is planning to help a the non-governmental organization (NGO) Internews to distribute 10,000 radio sets to quake survivors. The refugee agency will also support Power 99 FM radio station in their training workshops for local journalists contributing to the show.

More than 125,000 people have left the earthquake relief camps for their home villages since March this year, according to UNHCR. Over 30,000 displaced survivors are still living in 59 camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and North West Frontier Province.

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