A bottleneck of people and supplies at Nepal’s Kathmandu airport combined with nationwide fuel shortages, blocked roads and difficult terrain is hampering the efforts of aid agencies and emergency services to reach earthquake survivors, Oxfam warned today.
Oxfam Chief Executive Helen Szoke said there were huge challenges in getting help to the tens of thousands of people without adequate shelter, food and water.
“We are especially concerned about rural communities on the steep slopes that cover much of Nepal, many of whom are connected to the outside world by a single dirt road that may now be blocked by landslides. To get round this, Oxfam is looking at ways to transport essential goods overland from India. Heavy rainfall is also a problem, making life even more challenging for those camping outdoors and putting vulnerable people’s health at risk,” Dr Szoke said.
“Oxfam is stepping up its relief effort and aims to support 350,000 people. It is already providing clean water and toilets in four makeshift camps in the Kathmandu Valley and looking at how to work with other agencies to provide clean water to more than 34,000 people living in all 16 open-air sites set up by the Government of Nepal.”
Oxfam’s response team from India has arrived in Gorkha, one of the worst affected areas, and begun assessing the level of need in the villages, while another team has left for the remote Sindhupalchowk region to begin assessing needs. Over the coming days, we are also aiming to explore how to provide food and shelter to survivors and to reach Lamjung region.
More than 5 tonnes of water and sanitation materials have been dispatched to help those hit by the crisis.
The earthquake and series of aftershocks has killed more than 4,300 people and injured 8,000, with the death toll continuing to rise. The UN estimates that 8 million people across the country have been affected by the disaster – more than a quarter of the country’s population.
In Kathmandu, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager Orla Murphy said Oxfam had reached survivors in Kathmandu but was working hard to get to those in rural areas as well.
“Oxfam is already reaching tens of thousands of earthquake survivors in camps across Kathmandu but it’s vital that we can also get shelter, water and food to the huge numbers of people in hard-to-reach rural areas,” Ms Murphy said.
“Blocked roads, fuel shortages and supplies being held up at Kathmandu airport pose a big challenge for Oxfam and other agencies. We’re doing everything we can to get our teams to the affected areas to assess what’s needed and get help to vulnerable people who need it as soon as possible.”
Oxfam spokespeople are available for interviews in Nepal, in Oxfam’s regional office in Bangkok and in Melbourne.
For more information please contact Angus Hohenboken on 0428 367 318 or firstname.lastname@example.org