1 May 2015
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The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos travelled to Nepal this week to survey the large-scale damage caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country last Saturday, killing more than 6,000 people and destroying over 160,000 houses across the country, with numbers expected to rise.

“So many people have lost everything,” said Ms. Amos at a joint press conference on Friday with the European Union’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, where together they appealed to the international community to continue its support to the more than 8 million people affected by the massive earthquake, the largest to hit Nepal in over 80 years.

A $415 million Flash Appeal covering an initial three months was launched by the UN and its humanitarian partners on Wednesday. While some US$56 million has been received in support of the ongoing response – including bilateral support and US$15 million made available from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund – more funding is needed to continue relief operations.

Soaring humanitarian needs – including food, drinking water, and shelter – remain cause for concern, especially as rapidly deteriorating weather conditions are likely to become an added logistical challenge to the provision of humanitarian assistance.

“I am heartened and encouraged by the generosity and solidarity shown to date,” said Ms. Amos, “but I am also conscious of the urgent need to provide emergency shelter and basic goods and services to people affected as the monsoon season rapidly approaches,” she added.

Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams have been working round the clock to recover survivors and provide urgent medical care to the victims, many of which were buried amid the rubble in the capital city of Kathmandu or trapped in hard-to-access remote mountain villages.

While hopes are fading, three survivors were pulled from the rubble on Thursday, including a Nepalese woman who – thanks to the collaborative efforts of USAR teams from Norway, Israel and France – was rescued from a collapsed building in the Gongabu area of Kathmandu after unidentifiable sounds were heard coming from the ruins.

Although the number, frequency and strength of aftershocks have diminished significantly, many people continue to sleep in the open, with the unseasonal damp, cold weather conditions increasing their vulnerability to respiratory infection. Severe damage to infrastructure, including water and sanitation, is also of concern and increases the possibility of waterborne disease outbreaks.

The UN and partners continue to scale up their capacity on the ground, working alongside the Government of Nepal as it responds to the most critical needs of the survivors of the earthquake-ravaged country.