Friday, October 14, 2005

Blanket's journey reflects the trials of relief to India

Paperwork and holidays among the setbacks in delivering aid
Associated Press

TILGAM, INDIA - The wool blanket -- gray, blue and green
plaid with fringe -- started out in a New Delhi government
supply office. Loaded onto a rickety yellow truck with tents
and other Indian-made blankets, it traveled north to
earthquake-stricken Kashmir.

That took one day.

The blanket sat for two more days in the town of Baramulla
because quake victims did not have the right paperwork.
On Wednesday, the blanket was taken to another town but
held up by a Hindu holiday.

By Thursday afternoon -- five days and 650 miles after it left
the Indian capital -- the blanket was in the hands of a retired
farmer with one kidney and 20 grandchildren.

The blanket's journey reflects the long, bureaucracy-tangled
process of disaster relief in India, a country of more than 1
billion people that every year faces some of the world's
deadliest natural disasters, often with thousands killed and
wounded and thousands made homeless.

So far, 23,000 people are confirmed dead, but the death toll
is expected to climb further, officials said Thursday.

After a 620-mile trip, government aid workers unloaded the
blanket Monday from the truck and packed it with other
supplies into the deputy commissioner's compound in Baramulla.

The whole article via The Houston Chronicle

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