UNHCR flies in shelter materials for quake-displaced in Nepal
A worker loads UNHCR aid destined for delivery to thousands of people in quake-affected areas of Nepal.
KATHMANDU, Nepal, May 7 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency has flown in shelter materials for some 34,000 earthquake survivors in Nepal, with more supplies on their way as the number of displaced people approaches 3 million.
On Wednesday, a plane carrying 8,500 plastic sheets and 1,500 solar-powered lamps landed in Kathmandu from UNHCR's warehouse in Dubai. These have been handed over to partners including Save the Children, the Lutheran World Federation and community-based organizations for distribution to the affected areas. Further airlifts are planned in the coming days, bringing shelter supplies for at least another 54,000 displaced people.
"At the moment, the biggest and most urgent need for the earthquake-affected families is shelter," said Craig Sanders, UNHCR's representative in Nepal. "Many people are unable to return to their ruined homes and they are their spending days and nights in the open. The timely delivery of the tarpaulins will help people with temporary shelter protection in far-flung villages."
According to official estimates, the death toll from the April 25 earthquake has passed 7,600 and more than 16,000 people have been injured. The earthquake and aftershocks have destroyed around 285,000 houses and damaged tens of thousands more in the impoverished Himalayan nation.
In the immediate aftermath of the quake, UNHCR emptied its warehouse in Damak in eastern Nepal and worked with local authorities to distribute plastic sheets and solar lanterns for 44,000 people in seven affected areas east of Kathmandu.
The United Nations has launched a US$415-million emergency appeal to provide vital relief to people affected by the devastating earthquake.
UNHCR has been working with the Nepali government since the early 1960s to care for refugees from the region and beyond. There are currently more than 21,000 refugees originating from Bhutan in two camps in eastern Nepal, and some 650 refugees and asylum-seekers in and around Kathmandu.
By Deepesh Shrestha in Kathmandu, Nepal