Nepal - Four days after the catastrophic earthquake that struck Nepal, IOM is working round the clock to deliver assistance to affected communities throughout the country.
Quake-affected families living on the streets of Kathmandu for fear of further tremors. © IOM/Matt Graydon 2015
Over 5,000 people are reported killed and 8,174 injured in Saturday’s massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake. It is estimated that at least eight million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. These numbers are expected to climb as response teams gain access to remote parts of the country.
Aftershocks continue to rattle the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. While electricity is reaching parts of the city and some shops are reopening, many thousands of people are still sleeping outdoors, afraid to go back to their homes. Makeshift tents have been placed on available open land, including one large settlement on a golf course near the airport.
“Over 200 of us from our neighbourhood have been sleeping outside since Saturday. We’re scared to go back to our homes,” said Kathmandu resident Raj, who was displaced from home along with seven family members. “The community is taking care of each other, and we’re proud of that, but if this goes on much longer we will need more help. I’m especially worried about fresh water and no lights at night.”
With the monsoon season approaching and sporadic rain already falling in Kathmandu, there are serious health and safety concerns for people living in the open.
Working in close partnership with the government, UN and humanitarian organizations, IOM is currently finalizing preparations for large-scale distributions of assistance.
“Without immediate access to clean drinking water, shelter and healthcare, people living in open areas are extremely vulnerable,” said IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Maurizio Busatti. “Our priority right now is identifying the areas that are most in need and mobilizing assistance there as quickly as possible.”
With many roads blocked by landslides, access to remote areas affected by the earthquake remains a major challenge. In addition, limited runway capacity at Kathmandu airport has made it difficult to get emergency workers and supplies into the country. Despite these challenges, IOM was able to put a response team with experts in shelter, health and camp management on the ground within 24 hours.
Three flights carrying over 3,000 emergency shelter kits along with solar lanterns and plastic sheets will arrive in Kathmandu tomorrow morning, donated to IOM by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). These kits will be immediately distributed to displaced families in Kathmandu.
IOM will take delivery of additional shelter kits flown in by the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) in the coming days. Further relief supplies are being dispatched from prepositioned IOM stocks in the region.
Nepal became an IOM Member State in 2006. Since 2008, IOM operations in the country have included the resettlement of some 100,000 Bhutanese refugees of Nepali origin, mainly to the USA.