Asia

Nepal one month on: UN calls for more aid

  • 25 May 2015
  • From the section Asia
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Local people take a part in candlelight vigil to mark one month after the earthquake in Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu, Nepal (25 May 2015) Image copyright EPA
Image caption A candlelit vigil was held at Brikutimandap in Kathmandu to mark one month since the earthquake hit

One month after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal, the United Nations has said the world needs to provide more food aid and shelter for those left homeless.

A UN official said there was still a need to focus on providing relief rather than reconstruction.

More than 8,000 people died in the disaster and many remain homeless.

Nepal's government, which has been criticised for being slow to respond, has called for more direct aid funding.

Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat told the BBC less than 10% of the money spent on relief by his government came from overseas.

Dr Mahat said he hoped future international donations would be managed directly by his government.

On Monday evening, hundreds of Nepalis joined a candlelit vigil at the Brikutimandap grounds in Kathmandu to remember the dead and mark a month since the earthquake hit.

Media captionArchitect Nripal Adhikary: "We are building houses from dirt and sand"

The earthquake that hit on 25 April, and a second major tremor on 12 May, killed more than 8,600 people and brought down buildings in Kathmandu and the country's central districts.

Shelter materials and food aid have been slow to reach some areas, and many Nepalese have complained that the government is not doing enough to help those affected.

As aftershocks continue to be felt, thousands of people are still living in make-shift tents and there are fears these will not survive the summer monsoon, which is due to start next month.

There are also fears the rainy season will bring further landslides and the threat of disease.

The World Food Programme described its response to the earthquake as "one of our most complex operations" due to Nepal's difficult terrain.

Richard Ragan, WFP Emergency Co-ordinator, said the organisation had provided food for 1.8 million people in the hardest-to-reach locations since the disaster struck.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many are still living in makeshift shelters as the heavy monsoon rains approach

For the government, Dr Mahat said he recognised there were complaints over the way it had handled the aid effort.

"People are still under tents in the open parade ground and they cannot go back home," he said.

"Some people have not received the relief materials they expected. You cannot satisfy everybody."

But, he said, his government's ability to act had been hampered by international aid agencies who are working independently of government structures.

He said much of the hundreds of millions of dollars being raised around the world for quake victims was being spent directly by organisations such as the United Nations and aid agencies.

The United Nations has appealed for $423m (£273m) to be able to provide up to two million survivors with basic relief such as tents or tarpaulin sheets, dry food rations, safe drinking water and toilets for the next three months.

The organisation's Financial Tracking System shows that $92.4m has been raised so far - only 22% of the required funds.

"The international community provided relief materials, the services and some goods but they didn't give money - they have their own institutions and agencies to deliver the services," said Dr Mahat.

Media captionGanesh Bharati: "The first earthquake took down the entire school"

"It would be better if it had come through the government - that way we would have equitably distributed the relief materials to all the people."

In the past, Nepal has been criticised by international donors for its poor governance and high-level of corruption. It ranks 126th out of 174 countries on the 2014 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

But international aid organisations, which have been working in Nepal for the past four decades, have also been criticised for wasting money on ineffectual projects.

As well as government and international relief efforts, much of the aid being provided in the earthquake-hit districts is coming from local volunteers who have banded together to provide food and help build shelters.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nepal's government is asking international donors to give money directly to them for relief efforts

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