Help from the international community, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and various other companies has started pouring in after the Kathmandu International Airport in Nepal was reopened after the catastrophic earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on Saturday, April 25. Help in terms of volunteers, medical staff, vaccines, and amenities to the country is being routed from an airport in the neighboring city in India and from their by road to the Nepalese city of Pokhara. The region was one of the worst affected due to its close proximity to the epicenter and the population of the city with respect to inhabitants and tourists.
Though logistical difficulties remain, the reopening of the airport has come as a huge sigh of relief. However, access to the exact epicenter is still cut off and agencies are trying to use helicopters to reach the location to save those who are stranded and are in immediate need of humanitarian help. Governments of many countries around the world have come forward to provide help and support to Nepal in this moment of crisis after the earthquake which has led to 3200 confirmed deaths till now and thousands injured and missing.
The Pentagon said that a U.S. military plane has departed for Nepal Sunday, April 26 carrying 45 tons of cargo, along with 70 other personnel, an urban search and rescue team from Fairfax, Virginia, and a disaster assistance response team from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A total help of $10 million has been promised by the United States. Canada has sent humanitarian relief supplies, medical personnel and a unit from its urban disaster search and rescue team. Canada is also donating 5 million Canadian dollars ($4.1 million USD) to aid organizations.
The European Union has also come forward to help Nepal. Italy has deployed a team of experts from its Civil Protection Department as well as its foreign crisis team. Britain announced that an advance team of eight had been sent and that a 5 million pound ($7.6 million) aid package would be available under a rapid response plan. The Swiss Foreign Ministry has sent a team of a building surveyor, other experts including a doctor, and water quality technician. France has sent a team of 11 rescuers to Nepal. The European Commission has announced $3.3 million immediate aid money for Nepal.
A team of 52 relief workers which includes experts trained in searching for people buried under rubble, doctors, and many dog squads are being sent by International Search and Rescue Germany. To rescue people and get them medical help immediately, the team is bringing a mobile medical treatment center. The team’s spokesperson, Stefan Heine, said that they would be supported by multiple foreign governments that have declared their support, aid, and help worth millions of dollars. Heine said that the team’s main plan of action is to get to the location as fast as possible and rescue those who are still alive. Germany has also pledged support of $2.7 million.
Poland has sent many medics, rescue dogs, and heavy equipment along with 81 firefighters to Nepal. The team of firefighters had earlier got delayed due to chaos and confusion during the aftershocks. Norway has donated 30 million Norwegian kroner ($3.9 million USD) for aid and relief efforts. Australia has sent experts to Nepal and donated 5 million Australian dollars ($3.9 million USD).
The Israeli military has sent immediate search-and-rescue help and medical aid in the form of a 260-member group to Nepal. A spokesperson from the ministry said that they are working towards setting up a facility with a medical staff of 122 paramedics, doctors, and nurses. Apart from this, the facility will have close to 95 tons of medical and other humanitarian supplies from Israel. They are working rapidly to set-up the facility in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, so that the medical care in the region can be provided quickly.
The Indian government had sent its first plane with relief material to Nepal on April 25, right after the earthquake. Indian Railways has sent 100,000 water bottles and is continuing the effort. Teams from the Indian Army and the National Disaster Relief Force have reached Nepal using support from the Indian Air Force to help with rescue efforts. A team of neurosurgeons, cardiothoracic surgeons, and general surgeons has also been sent to Nepal by the Indian government. A C-130J aircraft with 55 Indian citizens rescued from Nepal has also reached India.
The United Arab Emirates has sent a search and rescue team of 88 personnel to Nepal along with another team sent by the Emirates Red Crescent. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has reportedly declared help of 20 million yuan ($3.2 million USD) in aid and humanitarian efforts. Singapore has donated 100,000 Singapore dollars ($75,000 USD) to the Singapore Red Cross for emergency supplies and aid.
UN, NGO, and Companies
Valerie Amos, the Chief of U.N. Humanitarian efforts, said that the real picture of the actual devastation that has taken place in Nepal would arise only once the humanitarian workers reach the absolute remote areas close to the epicenter of the earthquake. She mentioned that time is of the essence in search and rescue efforts as entire areas in Nepal have been flattened by the earthquake.
Many volunteers from numerous British charities have reached Nepal. Gary Francis, a leader of the group named Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters, said that they were bringing food, water, and tents to operate at least for 15 days. Francis also said that they would be getting equipment which included seismic listening devices, cutting equipment, and vibration and sound detectors. They would be doing all they can to find and rescue survivors. Their team would have the ability to carry out urban search and rescue missions in coordination with other agencies on ground and try to find people who are still trapped under rubble arising from collapsed buildings in Nepal.
PayPal announced it is waiving fees for donations to several aid organizations. The mobile payment company Square created a “cashtag” to donate: cash.me/$unicef. Other organizations like Facebook, Google, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola have also come up with plans to help Nepal as international support starts pouring in after the devastating earthquake.
By Ankur Sinha
Photo by Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi / UNDP Nepal–Creativecommons Flickr License