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Monday
Dec142015

UPDATE: Nepal - 200 Days after the  Earthquake

Nepal – 200 days after the devastating earthquake – A colossal humanitarian crisis prevails, compounded by a series of misery:  Floods, Landslides, Hunger, Insecurity, Joblessness, and lastly, a severe lack of Fuel & Essentials’ Supplies due to a political impasse, et al. Over 4 million remain homeless and penniless - many of them, hopelessly dwelling in make-shift tents! 

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Copy of an article by Reporter Volunteer Shyam Goenka:
edited: Dr Linda Spedding 

A devastating earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter Scale hit Nepal on April 25, 2015 and again on May 12 measuring 7.3, shaking the country, literally. It was nightmarish and a very frightening tragedy. As if these were not enough, there have also been a slew of tremors above 6 on the Richter Scale and more than 20 above 5, and more than 400 above 4, that have rocked Nepal ever since the fateful day of April 25. It caused more than 800,000 homes demolished and those many families homeless and jobless; more than 9000 lives lost and more than 2500 fatally injured.

Nepal is reeling under a colossal humanitarian crisis and needs global attention once again. 200 days after the tragedy struck, very little in relief and rehabilitation has gone to the families of the deceased and the ones fatally injured. 800,000 families whose homes got demolished find themselves in a situation that is many times graver than what it was when the catastrophe took place. The compassionate world had appreciably done their bit to help the innocent people in crisis and in all fairness would have thought that the country might have got back to life by now, but little do they know that the problems have actually got largely compounded with incessant fury of monsoons, floods, landslides, hunger, joblessness, insecurity, severe lack of fuel supplies, et al.

 

     


Those who lost their homes (800,000 families constituting more than 4 million people including elderly and children) got an equivalent of a paltry 150 US Dollars per family from the government to buy tents and nothing else on an assured basis (exceptions of a few having got some relief for a short while from social organizations, notwithstanding). Shortly after the earthquake struck, there was the monsoon to endure in make-shift tents many of which by then had begun to leak, and then there have been landslides and floods in several regions, followed by the Himalayan winters now without warm clothing! More than all this, the fact that there has been no money to buy food, clothes and medicines for 200 days now, is something incomprehensible for any soul. One cannot imagine how 4 million people have lived through these 200 days and don’t know how they can negotiate each day ahead! What bigger a humanitarian crisis can there be?

 

 

 

On top of all this they have lost peace of mind – for there is no job at hand and there is no light that they see at the end of the tunnel – there is no hope that is alive anymore seeing continuous poise of peril.

 

 

 

To add salt to injury, the country at large is facing disruption of fuel and food supplies at the borders. Even the ones who are able to pay astronomical prices, are barely able to buy things – in such a situation it is anybody’s guess how the ones, especially victims of such a devastating earthquake who have no money in hand, must be surviving. Fuel supplies are down to about 5% of what it used to be. This has caused the government to go back in times to desperately fetch firewood from the forests as cooking has been rendered a practice of privilege.

       
   

To add salt to injury, the country at large is facing disruption of fuel and food supplies at the borders. Even the ones who are able to pay astronomical prices, are barely able to buy things – in such a situation it is anybody’s guess how the ones, especially victims of such a devastating earthquake who have no money in hand, must be surviving. Fuel supplies are down to about 5% of what it used to be. This has caused the government to go back in times to desperately fetch firewood from the forests as cooking has been rendered a practice of privilege.

     

People have to queue up endlessly to notch a gas cylinder on ration. Travelling dangerously on the roof of buses has become a common scene. Even octogenarians reportedly have had to queue up and then take the firewood load on their shoulders because the public transport is in total limbo and so is the private transport too.

This tragedy came at a time when Nepal had barely come out of the crisis it has been in - fighting incessantly with abject poverty, political instability, a sad legacy of 10 years of a civil war that took more than 15000 lives.

After all this, yet, there are no credible time lines of homes being provided to the families and of their being able to earn a livelihood for themselves. The Reconstruction Authority of the Government is yet not in place! Families have no money with them to even feed their children. Many have nursed illness and diseases which need to be addressed. Many have developed psychiatric problems and there are several cases of children having got misplaced. There are pregnant women who have no access to medical care. Invariably all are subject to lack of food and essentials.

As stated above, now the situation is even worse, when the world assumes that “the tragedy is old and is not expedient today” and the government is as helpless as ever, the sympathy that the tragedy evoked 6 months back has also diminished, and hence support from Nonprofits & CSOs have also been on a wane. The victims are worn out and tired fighting all the tyrannies of nature and are only hoping that their children could somehow have a roof on their heads and they could somehow begin to earn a livelihood.

Nepal is in total ruins. The home of Lord Buddha - the Apostle of Peace, has been marred with depredation and wreckage. Only the debris remains of famous pilgrim sites visited by thousands of devotees every day. The kin of the brave Gurkha warriors who valiantly protect boundaries of various countries, watched helplessly as their homes destroyed, and families split apart. It may be recalled that the Gurkha soldiers, who for many generations have been an integral part of the British Army, are the sixth largest force in the UN Peacekeeping Corps. The epicenter of the devastating earthquake of the 25 April, Barpak, incidentally, is in the very homeland of the warriors – the Gorkha district. This entire district has been devastated and several more in the mid-hills.

There is an urgent need to reach out to the victims and help provide them with all they need. While food and medical care are the most basic needs, there are several things needed to be done at least now, after 200 days of tyranny.

Besides food and medical care, requirement is large and may be enumerated largely as follows:

  1. Address the psychiatric issues being nursed by many victims
  2. Education has been marred all this while as School buildings have got demolished – need to rebuild Schools on priority, and in parallel arrange for class rooms to operate from temporary shelters 
  3. Work on having the displaced children brought back to their respective families
  4. Need to educate people on precautionary measures against any future incidences of earthquake

These are primary requirements but not exhaustive. The likes of us who have tried to reach as much support as possible namelessly, had in all fairness expected that the government will get down to reaching out reprieve to victims but that has somehow not happened and the size of the homeless – above 4 million people, is a daunting task that requires support from us, at large. 

 

Important References:

http://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/28-lakh-quake-hit-nepalis-yet-to-get-basics-reports-un/

http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2015-06-25/nepal-still-needs-vital-humanitarian-assistance-un.html

http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2015-10-26/un-concerned-over-quake-victims-woes.html 

http://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/nepal-still-in-crisis-after-3-months-of-quake-says-un/ 

http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-04-25/devastating-earthquake-leaves-more-thousand-dead-and-rising-nepal 

http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2015-06-02/ban-pays-tribute-to-quake-victims.html

 

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