Earthquake aid: 'leave it to the experts'

Well-meaning people are hampering the aid effort in Pakistan and making it harder for official aid agencies to do their work, according to an Islamic Relief fundraiser who has just returned from the area.

Jahangir Malik said that because the UK is home to the largest number of Kashmiri people outside Kashmir, the disaster zone has been a magnet for British citizens flying out with tents or money. "Although it is well intentioned, they just don't have the experience," he said.

Paul Anticoni, head of international aid at the British Red Cross, said duplication of aid "had been less of a problem than it was in the Asian tsunami", but agreed with Islamic Relief that donations in kind were not always helpful, particularly given the pressure on limited transport facilities such as helicopters.

Malik said careful co-ordination was needed to limit the spread of disease.

He urged NGOs working in the area to report any 'unofficial helpers' to the authorities.

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