Nepali Times

WFP starts high-altitude operation

Monday, May 25th, 2015
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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced that they have distributed food to 1.7 million people in the hardly-hit districts of Nepal during the first month of the Gorkha earthquake.

WFP distributes food in Gorkha. Pic: Zoie Jones / WFP

WFP distributes food in Gorkha. Pic: Zoie Jones / WFP

In a press statement released on Monday 25 May, the UN agency said they are now preparing to get to the people in high-altitude villages. This second phase, known as Operation Mountain Express, will provide food for 200,000 more people in the coming days.

Remote areas are currently being reached by mountaineers on behalf of WFP and the wider humanitarian response to assess the needs of villagers. About 20,000 local porters will soon begin bringing aid to these communities. “This also gives employment to the porters who were out of work because of the drop in tourism,” said the WFP representative.

WFP’s logistics support for the entire humanitarian response includes a network of logistics hubs, a land supply route from India, a fleet of trucks, and helicopters to reach those areas inaccessible by road.

According to WFP, the dispatching of humanitarian goods have been efficient, thanks to the Humanitarian Staging Area (HSA) at Kathmandu Airport. This logistics hub, run by WFP and funded by the UK’s DFID, opened four weeks before the earthquake as part of a larger joint programme of disaster preparedness.


Cash for quake survivors

Monday, May 25th, 2015
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Two members of ACT alliance, a coalition of more than 140 humanitarian organisations, announced a new program on Monday to help Nepal’s earthquake survivors.

DanChurchAid (DCA) and Norwegian Church Aid, which began relief and recovery work within the first few days of the 25 April earthquake, said they will provide cash through mobile phones to people affected by the disaster.

“We aim to start our early recovery work with cash transfers,” said DCA in a statement. “Our beneficiaries will receive money, which they can use for their own needs.”

“We will transfer cash to people so that they will have a choice to buy things that they think are most essential to them, and cope with the disaster with dignity,” said David Smith, Regional Representative of DCA.

In the first phase, DCA and Norwegian Church Aid helped the earthquake-hit people by providing them with food and non-food items like blankets, mattresses, ropes, and tarpaulins for shelter.

DCA says they have served 10,563 households in Gorkha, Dhading, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts in the first month after the earthquake.


‘Children prone to malnutrition’

Monday, May 25th, 2015
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Thousands of children in the earthquake-affected districts are among the malnutrition vulnerable group and require urgent humanitarian support, said UNICEF.

On Monday, one month after the devastating 25 April earthquake, UNICEF said an estimated 70,000 children under the age of five are at risk for malnutrition and at least 15,000 of them need therapeutic foods like nutrient-rich peanut paste to combat severe acute malnutrition. Some 55,000 children with moderate acute malnutrition require supplementary feeding and extra care to bring them back to a healthy weight and development of growth, said UNICEF.

UNICEF’s representative in Nepal, Tomoo Hozumi, says the situation of malnutrition has worsened following the earthquake and there is a need for urgent action.

“Before the earthquake, more than one in every 10 children was suffering from acute malnutrition,” said Hozumi. “The situation could deteriorate in the wake of this disaster and undo the gains in nutrition that this country has achieved in the past few years.”

UNICEF said it is working with its partners to provide urgent feeding and care to protect the lives of these children and to build resistance against diseases, especially water-borne ones, during the upcoming monsoon season.


Landslide blocks Kaligandaki

Sunday, May 24th, 2015
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Thousands of people living along Kaligandaki River have fled their homes fearing a flash flood after a massive landslide blocked Kaligandaki River.

Kaligandaki River has virtually dried up downstream of Baisari village in Myagdi district, where a huge landside buried 25 houses and created a dam. However, no casualties have been reported from the village. Police say 123 people were rescued from there within two hours after the earthquake.

The locals of Benibazar, Ghatan, Galeshwor and Pokharebagare of Myagdi are now moving to higher grounds after the landslide. The government has also urged people living along the river in Baglung, Parbat, Gulmi, Palpa, Syangja, Tanahu and Nawalparasi districts to be on ‘high alert’.

“The river is not flowing downstream,” Myagdi’s Chief District Officer Tek Bahadur KC told Nepali Times. “The landslide dam could burst any time and sweep away villages. So, we have asked the locals to vacate their houses.”

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said early Sunday morning that Nepal Army has been mobilised to clear the river. But KC said army helicopters have not been able to land near the landslide area. A helicopter landed somewhere north of the landslide area at 9:45 pm. but the army team took longer to reach there.

 


Youths stay home

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
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After the earthquake, most youths have cancelled their plans to migrate abroad . They are, instead, busy rebuilding their destroyed houses. Photo: Om Astha Rai

The 25 April earthquake is expected to accelerate the rate at which Nepal’s youths are migrating abroad for works.

But the earthquake’s initial impact is just opposite: the deaths and destruction have led to a dramatic fall in the number of youths flying overseas.

Only a little more than 30,000 youths, mostly from the districts unaffected by the earthquake, have left the country since 25 April.

According to the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), altogether 52,210 youths had left the country for overseas jobs from mid March to mid April.  But this number fell to just 31,375 people in the following month (mid April-mid May).

The DoFE officials say virtually no one has left the country from the earthquake-affected districts since 25 April. The 3125 youths migrating abroad in this period left the country either a few days before 25 April or from the unaffected districts.

Ganesh Gurung, an expert on migration and remittance economy, says the drop in the number of youths leaving the country is temporary and more men and women will migrate abroad in the months to come.

“Most people who lost their homes in the earthquake are likely to migrate abroad to pay off loans that they take to rebuild their houses,” says Gurung.

The earthquake has severely affected 16 districts, leaving more than 8,000 people dead and 18,000 people wounded. The catastrophe also destroyed around 600,000 houses.

The migration trend seems to have reversed in the first month of the earthquake, with youths staying home and those who were already abroad returning to rebuild their homes.

 


Disaster is not over: WHO

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
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World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday stressed the need for restoration of health facilities damaged by the 25 April earthquake.

“One month since the earthquake, we know that the disaster is far from over,” said Poonam Khetrapal, WHO’s regional director, in a press statement. “With the monsoons fast approaching, there are more challenges ahead – to urgently restore primary health care services, even temporarily, provide water-proof medical tents, essential medicines and keep a strict vigil on any disease outbreak.”

WHO said that managing the injured, providing rehabilitation support to those discharged from the hospitals and psychosocial support to the affected population as well as ensuring the regular services for maternal and child care, communicable diseases such as TB are its ongoing priorities.

“The challenge is to address all the issues before the rainy season,” reads the statement.

WHO said it has stationed District Support Officers in the 14 highly affected districts to coordinate response and strengthen disease surveillance. Deployment of more than 100 Foreign Medical Teams (FMTs) that came to Nepal to support emergency response is also being planned with partners and Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP), reads the statement.

“We are committed to support Nepal’s health system to deliver life-saving and essential services to its people and build back resilient health facilities that will be safe in emergencies,” said Singh.

The earthquake damaged 26 hospitals, and more than 1100 health facilities and 90 per cent of the health facilities outside the main towns were rendered non-functional.


Sherpa new Tourism Minister

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
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Prime Minister Sushil Koirala administrates the oath of office and secrecy to the newly appointed Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripasur Sherpa on Friday in a presence of President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and the Vice President Parmananda Jha at President's Official Residence Sitalniwas, Kathmandu. Photo: Kumar Shrestha/RSS

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala administrates the oath of office and secrecy to the newly appointed Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripasur Sherpa on Friday. Photo: RSS

CPN (UML) on Friday recommended Kripasur Sherpa as new Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Sherpa will succeed Deepak Chandra Amatya in the Sushil Koirala government. Koirala administered the oath of office and secrecy to Sherpa Friday.

Sherpa is the third UML leader to become Tourism Minister in the Koirala government. Just one year ago, Amatya had replaced Bhim Acharya as Tourism Minister.

Acharya is a relative of UML leader Jhal Nath Khanal. UML had replaced Acharya with Amatya, Khanal’s former personal secretary.

Amatya’s father, Sushil Chandra Amatya, was a member of the first Constituent Assembly, but he vacated his seat for UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Amatya was forced to step down after ‘he failed to perform well’ in the government. He submitted his resignation on Thursday.

UML leader Pradip Gyawali said Amatya was recalled from the government because his performance was ‘weak’ as Tourism Minister. “The party assessed that he was not capable of leading a ministry,” said Gyawali.

UML leader Ghanshyam Bhusal said that Amatya was recalled because ‘there was criticism against his lack of competence within the party’.

Sherpa, too, does not have experience of leading a ministry. He rose to prominence only after winning the last Constituent Assembly (CA) elections.


 

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