26 April 2015 - Christian Aid partners are providing urgent relief to victims of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal and parts of India, leaving over 2,300 dead and thousands more severely injured.
Entire communities have been devastated by the disaster. Some 6.6 million people are affected, with the death toll set to rise as rescue efforts continue. Unconfirmed reports suggest that 80% of homes have collapsed near the epicentre, while hospitals are struggling to cope with the scale of the disaster.
Thousands are being forced to live out in the open, due to the risk of further aftershocks. In response, Christian Aid with its partners in Nepal and India are assessing the scale of damage in some of the hardest-hit areas and identifying the most pressing needs: these include access to safe drinking water, food, shelter and hygiene kits.
This work will be funded by Christian Aid’s emergency appeal, launched yesterday. The charity has already sent £50,000 to support the work of local partner agencies in the region, and will scale up its operations in the days and weeks ahead.
Christian Aid’s sister agency Lutheran World Foundation Nepal (LWF), part of the ACT Alliance, already has teams in place on the ground. LWF will be assisting with the coordination of emergency supplies at a government-run camp, due to begin providing temporary shelter from today.
Other Christian Aid partners are joining the relief efforts. Local organisation PGVS, which works on the Nepal/India border on disaster preparedness, will be distributing 100,000 sets of water purification kits supplied by Christian Aid. Meanwhile humanitarian response experts RedR and water treatment group Aquaplus will also deliver much-needed aid.
Christian Aid’s Ram Kishan, Regional Emergency Manager for South Asia, based in Delhi, said: “Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the region and has one of the least capacities to deal with an emergency of this scale. Medical services and hospitals are facing an immense strain at the moment. In Kathmandu Valley, hospitals are overcrowded, running out of room for storing corpses and also running short of emergency supplies.
“At the moment we know that 6.6m people have been affected. However, the numbers are likely to increase because the earthquake epicentres - mainly Gorkha, Makwanpur and Lamjung - are still not accessible. Those affected will have immediate and long-term needs emerging in the coming days. The most pressing need at the moment is for food, water supplies, medication, blankets, hygiene kits and other essentials for people who are displaced.”
Commenting on the longer term consequences, Ram Kishan said: “Largely, people are going to be hit in terms of housing, access to basic amenities and livelihoods. Access to many places in Nepal under normal circumstances is very limited, but many villages are now cut off from the main highways. A lot of people are dependent on small shops, and they will be hard-hit because farmers’ produce will not be able to get to the markets.
“The number of deaths will have a serious impact on the households. There will also be significant disruption to essential services – water supplies, sanitation facilities and electricity are already in a bad shape, and this is going to be further affected because of the harm to public infrastructure.”
This was Nepal’s worst earthquake in eight decades. The disaster also reached the neighbouring north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. Ram Kishan said: “At the moment, the deaths confirmed in India are 64: the majority are in the northern states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Some of the public infrastructure there has been damaged and some houses have collapsed. We are in touch with groups in all these states to get more information on the extent of the damage.”
See more on Christian Aid’s response
If you would like further information, please contact Tomi Ajayi on 020 7523 2427. 24-hour press duty phone: 07850 242950.
Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk