The semi-autonomous region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than 50 years. In this time, hundreds of thousands have been killed and imprisoned in unrelenting violence that has on occasion turned into total war.
Oppression and neglect means rural Kashmiris are in a poor state. Widows, unable to remarry, abound, while severe poverty has forced many orphans to leave school and become labourers.
The average annual income of families in Azad Kashmir is below the national average for Pakistan – itself unfeasibly low.
Difficulties have been compounded by the little goverment support since the earthquake in 2005. For many, the homes and livelihoods that were destroyed have remained destroyed.
Ummah Welfare Trust administers relief in the Baltistan region, Azad Kashmir and Jammu Kashmir. The charity sponsors widows and orphans and renders emergency relief when necessary.
Masjids and shelters have also been built for displaced communities and a medical clinic in Kotli currently provides free treatment to poor families.