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Earthquake in Nepal

Emergency relief before the rainy season

Story by Swiss Solidarity June 22nd, 2015

Nearly three million people need help after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, thousands were left seriously injured, and almost 9000 people lost their lives in the disaster.

The relief effort in Nepal is running at full capacity. Swiss Solidarity’s partner organizations are under enormous time pressure – the rainy season is imminent and the treacherous roads in the mountainous areas of the country will soon become impassable.

Four weeks after National Fundraising Day, Swiss Solidarity has visited Nepal to take a look at the ongoing relief work.

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Handicap international

Kathmandu’s hospitals are overflowing with patients from neighbouring regions, some of whom have been airlifted to the capital from remote areas by helicopter. Once treated, these people have to leave the hospital promptly and need to be housed in temporary shelters.

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Tented accommodation camps, women’s shelters and yoga centres are being used as temporary accommodations. Some of the injured are treated by Handicap International, sometimes for weeks, before beginning the arduous journey to their home village, which is often several days away on foot.

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Fifty-nine-year-old Kancha Tamang was in his house when it collapsed, leaving him with a complicated leg fracture. He was airlifted by helicopter to Kathmandu, where he will undergo treatment and therapy for at least two more months before being able to return home.

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Eight-year-old Shristi is received at a camp with her mother and little brother. Shristi’s leg was dislocated, so doctors re-set it into its original position.

Apsara Ceiri (16) was trapped under rubble with her four sisters when their house collapsed. She suffered serious injuries to her hand and arm; her youngest sister died. Aspara came to Kathmandu with her younger sister Asmrita (13) and is currently being housed in a women’s shelter.

Shristi  and her mother
Apsara Ceiri
Asmrita Ceiri

Six-year-old Nirmala’s right leg was crushed in a landslide caused by the earthquake and had to be amputated. She is currently being cared for by physiotherapists from Handicap International.

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While the devastation in Kathmandu is not always visible at first glance, it is starkly obvious in rural areas. In the village of Saku, around three hours by car from the capital, entire rows of houses have been flattened. Here alone, 60 people died in the rubble. Medair was based here before the earthquakes and was able to start the relief effort just hours after the disaster, delivering medical care, distributing tents and emergency supplies (tarpaulins, mattresses, blankets etc.) or food and seed for crops.

Wendy van Amerongen is on the ground for Medair and reports:

„I’m really impressed by the resilience of the local community. Our priority is to continue working with them in reaching families living in remote villages. When monsoon season starts, landslides and roadblocks will make accessing these villages even more challenging, and people will become more vulnerable. It’s essential that those living in make-shift shelters receive our shelter materials so they can better prepare themselves to stay dry and prevent illness.“

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Rubble is all that remains of 54-year-old Subha Lakshmi’s home. She now lives with her children in a makeshift shelter built with debris.

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Terre des hommes – child relief

Terre des hommes - child relief works with mobile clinics which visit a different location every day in order to examine and treat local populations. When patients’ injuries are too severe to be treated on site, they are directed to the nearest hospital.

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At the same time, children who have endured trauma are treated through play therapy, while their parents receive counselling from qualified staff.

Sebastian Zug, head of Terre des hommes in Nepal, explains:

“The earthquake has not only inflicted destruction, injury and death, it has also embedded itself deeply in people’s minds. This change from everyday life helps take their minds off things and we support them in processing the situation.”

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Swiss Solidarity has to date given support to five relief projects run by ADRA, Handicap International, Medair, Solidar Suisse and Terres des hommes – Child Relief. Other aid organizations have announced the submission for funding of ongoing relief projects – Swiss Solidarity will be refunding these projects accordingly.

Thank you for your donation.

Footnote: Photos: © Swiss Solidarity + © Swiss Solidarity / Sébastien Anex
Nepal