UK-based ecumenical churches' development agency Christian Aid yesterday pledged an initial £50,000 to aid emergency efforts in quake-hit Pakistan, where over 20,000 are feared dead.
The evangelical organization Tearfund is also making fresh commitments to relief work in the region.
Christian Aid's director, Dr Daleep Mukarji, who has personal experience of the Indian subcontinent, said more money would be made available to aid agencies working in the area as soon as requests came in.
'Christian Aid does not routinely work in Pakistan, but the scale of this disaster is so big that we simply must respond in some way,' Dr Mukarji declared. 'We have made this money available to our sister agencies, including Church World Service, who are already bringing in survival kits and blankets to 15,000 families.'
He added: 'If, as we expect, they require more money as they expand their operation, we will respond immediately.''
At a midday meeting on Sunday, Christian Aid staff from Delhi and Kabul reported that the affects of the earthquake in India and Afghanistan were far less clear, because of the remoteness of the areas.
Dr Mukarji said it was too early to know just how bad the damage in India and Afghanistan was. 'We are keeping a close eye on the situation. The areas affected are remote and information is bound to be slow in getting through. We are ready to respond if and when required.'
The UK-based Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) has been heavily involved in reconstruction work following the devastating Asian tsunami on 26 December 2004. It collaborates with Catholic partners through the Caritas network in the Indian sub-continent, and is looking at what it can do in the face of the new quake crisis.
Meanwhile, Tearfund international regions director Ian Wallace said: 'Our hearts go out to the many thousands of affected people. Our first step on hearing the news was to confirm that all our partners and staff in the region were safe. Then we immediately made emergency funds available to our partners. We will refine our response by the day as more news comes from the region and the situation becomes clearer.'
Early plans by Tearfund partners in the area include the possible deployment of a team of doctors and nurses, as well as the use of student volunteers to bolster local emergency aid efforts in the worst-affect villages and towns. Several Tearfund partners will carry out detailed assessments of need over the next few days.