Emergency funding for relief efforts are streaming into Nepal as the country begins to recover from last Saturday’s devastating earthquake, the top United Nations humanitarian official said today as she urged the international community to increase its support for the landlocked Himalayan nation.
“I am heartened and encouraged by the generosity and solidarity shown to date,” declared UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos in a press release following her arrival in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. Alongside Ms Amos as she made the appeal was the European Union’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
“But I am also conscious of the urgent need to provide emergency shelter and basic goods and services to people affected as the monsoon season rapidly approaches. So many people have lost everything,” underscored Ms. Amos.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal at 11:56 a.m., local time on 25 April, flattening swathes of the densely-populated Kathmandu valley and causing large-scale damage in the country’s more remote areas. According to initial estimates, the temblor killed at least 5,000 people and affected millions more while also destroying around 70,000 houses and damaging another 530,000 across 39 of Nepal’s 75 districts.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – the Organization’s relief wing headed up by Ms. Amos – has launched a joint humanitarian response plan alongside other UN agencies and partners in an effort to support Government-led efforts in addressing the most critical needs of millions of people in need of shelter, water and sanitation, emergency health, food, and protection for the next three months.
At the same time, the UN’s $415 million Flash Appeal, which was jump-started with $15 million made available through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), will help partners provide emergency shelter to 500,000 people who remain in the open, braving the damp and cold weather. Emergency health services and medical supplies and facilities, and safe drinking water and sanitation facilities are also urgently needed for up to 4.2 million people.
As many as 1.4 million people will benefit from food assistance, including 750,000 in hard-to-reach areas. Some 2.1 million children and 525,000 women will benefit from protection assistance.
OCHA has confirmed that a total of $53 million has already been sourced for the Appeal but amid rapidly deteriorating conditions on the ground and a fast-approaching monsoon season, humanitarian efforts will need to be scaled up quickly.
Funding, the UN office said, is needed “immediately to continue relief operations.”