Employees of the Emergencies Committee under the Government of Tajikistan jointly with representatives of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) carried out a search and rescue operation for four Israeli tourists, who were stuck in mountains in GBAO Shugnan district, according to the Emergencies Committee. 

“The Emergencies Committee received information on September 17 that four Israeli tourists aged 23 to 24, including one woman, stuck in mountains in the Shugnan district, gave a distress signal.  A rescue team has been set up and volunteers from AKAH in GBAO have been involved in the search and rescue operation,” Ms. Umeda Yusufi, a spokeswoman for the Emergencies Situations, told Asia-Plus in an interview. 

According to her, it was impossible to get to the tourists by a vehicle or a helicopter, and therefore, the rescuers took horse.

“The rescuers reached the destination on September 19 and provided the first aid to the 23-year-old Ben Moshe Shai (phonetically spelled), who was suffering from an altitude hypoxia,” said Yusufi.  “In the morning of September 20, the tourists were taken to Lake Sarez and from there to Khorog.  Two of the tourists remained in Khorog while two others were taken to Istiqlol Hospital in Dushanbe.”  

The programs of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat have won a number of awards, including: 2015 Times of India Social Impact Award (India); 2012 Zayed Energy Prize (Abu Dhabi); 2011 Ashden Award (UK); 2009 UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction Certificate of Merit; 2009 Dubai International Award for Best Practices; 2009 Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Global Leadership Award (Uganda); 2009 and 2010 National Energy Globe Award (Czech Republic); 2006 Sitara-e-Eisaar (for earthquake relief in Pakistan); 2005 ALCAN Prize for Sustainability (Canada); and 2006 World Habitat Award (UK).

In Tajikistan, Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), a part of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, engages with communities living in precarious mountain environments to increase their resilience to natural disasters and complex emergencies and to support them in utilizing an enabling habitat to enhance their health, education and economic development. 

The FOCUS approach is to predict where possible potential emergencies that may impact homes and livelihoods, identify structural and non-structural interventions that can prevent or mitigate the impact of those hazards and to build the capacities of communities and local and national Governments to reduce their vulnerability to risk and to increase their capacities to help their neighbors. 

To enable this FOCUS implements a wide range of disaster prevention and response initiatives in local communities, including disaster preparedness trainings, vulnerability assessments, risk mitigation activities and disaster relief efforts.

For nearly 20 years, FOCUS, with financial support from the European Commission, World Bank and the governments of Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada and USA, has worked to meet the challenges of the communities by fostering disaster-resilience.