‘Copter services may come to halt’

  • relief operations
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 11, 2015-


Helicopter services vital to humanitarian relief efforts in quake struck Nepal may be terminated earlier than planned unless more funding is secured to continue operations, United Nations Office in Kathmandu said.

Any potential interruption to UNHAS service will leave at least 146,000 people in remote communities devastated by the 25 April and 12 May earthquakes without the support they require to survive through the monsoon and beyond, including emergency shelter and food and livelihoods support, it said in a statement on Monday. Monsoon rains and the landslides further limit or even cut off access to communities, making airlift service more crucial by the day. “Airlift support is crucial for ongoing relief operation,” said Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal. “Without it, humanitarian partners won’t be able to continue providing vital assistance to communities in far-flung areas, most of which were severely affected by the earthquakes. UNHAS has been proving essential to overcoming several logistical challenges, now compounded by the monsoon, and will remain indispensable as we move in the weeks to come with preparing these communities for their survival through the upcoming winter.” To date, 139 remote communities currently inaccessible by road have been served by UNHAS helicopters. UNHAS says that it needs US$ 18 million to continue to support the ongoing relief operation until the end of October 2015. To date, only US$ 8.8 million (or 49 per cent) has been received, leaving a US$ 9.2 million shortfall. If the gap is not met soon, deliveries will cease at the end of August. “Because of great need in remote areas, exacerbated by the recent monsoon weather delays, we currently have a significant backlog,” said Edmondo Perrone, Logistics Cluster Coordinator. “We have pending requests to move about 650 metric tons of emergency supplies, and new requests for the movement of cargo continue to be received daily. About 35 organisations are waiting for airlifts, which emphasises how desperate the need is for this service right now.” UNHAS, the World Food Programme managed service, provides the entire humanitarian community involved in earthquake response with free airlift services, both cargo and passenger. It delivers supplies to remote communities on behalf of the government, as well as more than 135 NGOs, UN agencies, donors, the diplomatic community and other humanitarian partners. Since its establishment, and despite adverse weather, UNHAS allowed for moving more than 2,600 humanitarian workers and 1,457 metric tons of humanitarian supplies across the country. Its fleet has been utilised 30 percent more than was originally envisioned, as the need was much greater than anticipated, leading to depletion of funding reserves.

Published: 11-08-2015 11:29

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