Caritas looking to expand aid in Nepal
29 Apr 2015 | Blog | Emergency Relief
It’s now four days since a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. With the death toll reaching well over 3000, the Prime Minister saying today that the death toll could quickly spike to 10,000, and an estimated 6,700 people injured during the quake, rescue operations are ongoing.
In Kathmandu, police and army personnel are still trying to reach people who were injured as homes and other buildings collapsed around the city. Caritas Nepal, with the support of the international Caritas network, is now providing emergency relief to people who have been affected by Nepal’s worst earthquake in 80 years.
Fr Pius Perumana, Director of Caritas Nepal said shelter and basic necessities, like food and clean water, are the first priority. “We started organising ourselves on Saturday afternoon, just hours after the earthquake struck,” he said. “As soon as the road was opened, we managed to reach the office, and then we started collecting our own emergency staff. We collected some tarpaulin sheets and distributed them in the neighbourhood immediately.”
With the current poor weather conditions, including rain over the past few days, the worst affected communities urgently need shelter and tarps. Roads, infrastructure and communication lines in the mountainous valleys of Nepal posed significant challenges in access and coordination long before the earthquake struck.
With the widespread destruction from the earthquake, relief teams and aid agencies are facing significant challenges responding to the scale of this emergency. “We are getting tarps delivered from outside Kathmandu as the supply in the capital has run out. Our Caritas network has shelter kits located in India and Dubai which are currently en-route to Kathmandu with hundreds already to hand,” said Fr Perumana .
Another priority at the moment is food for people who are living out in the streets. Four days after the disaster, the food supplies that people had with them are dwindling. Over the last two days, Caritas has been distributing dry food items to local evacuation areas, including a nearby school.
Caritas Nepal staff say that communities are banding together to do the best with what they have, but there is still a great need for more emergency supplies and support in the affected communities.
“I have received an uncountable number of requests,” said Prakash Khadka from Caritas Nepal. “Local people are calling. Just now, one phone call said 60 houses down in total, please bring some help. We feel quite empathetic. We just saw the people crying when they were receiving the help this afternoon.”
So far, most of the Caritas relief efforts have been based in Kathmandu, because of the great difficulty in accessing areas outside of the city. Over the next few days, Caritas aims to reach these areas outside of Kathmandu by mobilising its emergency response through its strong Church network and local connections with those communities involved in Caritas Nepal’s long-term development programmes. This support will be vital with an estimated 8 million people affected by the earthquake across 39 Nepalese districts.
Caritas Nepal has received overwhelming support from the international Caritas network, with Caritas organisations around the world supporting the response with personnel and resources. They have also been touched, and incredibly grateful for the generosity of the international community, as donations continue flowing in to all Caritas agencies to support the earthquake emergency response.
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