By Anil Giri
Kathmandu, April 29 (IANS) The United Nations and its partners on Wednesday appealed for $415 million urgently to provide vital relief to those affected by the devastating earthquake in Nepal.
The joint action plan aims to support the Nepal government’s efforts in addressing the most critical needs for shelter, water and sanitation, emergency health care, food and protection over the next three months, the UN said here on Wednesday.
The 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 has caused large-scale damage across the country, including the densely populated Kathmandu Valley.
As many as 5,006 people have lost their lives and another 10,194 have been injured in the quake and the aftershocks that followed, officials said on Wednesday.
Some 70,000 houses have been destroyed and another 530,000 damaged across 39 of Nepal’s 75 districts.
“Millions of people are in need of food assistance. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the government, humanitarian and international communities launched a massive relief operation,” said the UN.
“The timing of the interventions remains the essence,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal.
“Although I am heartened and encouraged by the progress of the response to date, efforts need to be maintained and stepped up to ensure vital assistance reaches all the affected, especially those in the remote areas,” the official said.
The appeal reflects both the scale of the needs as well as the significant logistical challenges linked to providing an effective large-scale humanitarian response in hard-to-reach, mountainous areas.
The partners will 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 are also required, as well as safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for up to 4.2 million people.
Up to 1.4 million people will benefit from the food assistance, including the 750,000 affected in hard to reach areas.
Some 2.1 million children and 525,000 women will benefit from protection interventions.
“As the monsoon season approaches, (it) is likely to become an added logistical challenge to provide humanitarian assistance,” said McGoldrick.
“Funding is needed immediately to continue the relief operations.”
A sum of $15 million has been made available from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to jump-start the humanitarian activities on the ground.