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Published:August 1st, 2007 07:20 EST
UN sends in helicopters, food, medicines to aid Nepalese flood victims

UN sends in helicopters, food, medicines to aid Nepalese flood victims

By SOP newswire

With helicopters, food, water purification tablets, blankets and medical supplies United Nations agencies have rushed emergency aid to tens of thousands of Nepalese hit by floods and landslides, responding rapidly to the Government’s request for assistance in the crisis.

“The UN System in Nepal stands fully committed to extend all possible assistance to the people of the affected districts who are suffering from the current natural calamity," UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Matthew Kahane said in an update on the incessant rains that over the past three weeks have triggered floods and landslides in 28 districts of the Himalayan country, killing some 57 people, affecting more than 230,000 others and driving 4,000 families from their homes.

Food, drinking water and temporary shelter have been identified as the major needs. There is a heightened risk of increased deaths and illness in the coming weeks and months due to outbreaks of communicable diseases, most importantly acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, vector-borne diseases and snake bites.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided water purification tablets and flocculent powder to purify water for some 30,000 people in affected areas in Banke, Bardiya, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Rautahat and Karnali Zone. The agency has also sent 6,000 packets of oral rehydration salts through its partners to address the onset of diarrhoea and dysentery that may arise from water contamination, as well as tarpaulins, water buckets and blankets.

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has made its helicopters available, at the Government’s request, and, with financial support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), has flown rescue teams including members of the Nepal Army, police, Red Cross, government officials and UN agencies for evacuation, relief and assessment operations. UNDP is also coordinating with the private sector to facilitate contributions to the overall response.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is ready to immediately respond with food aid for people displaced by flooding across the Terai if the Government requests such assistance, while the UN World Health Organization (WHO), along with the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division of the Department of Health, is conducting rapid health assessments, introducing post-emergency disease surveillance. Medical supplies have been pre-positioned and new requests are being processed.

For its part, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has provided food and supplies to 1,000 flood victims in Mahottari, including medical support to the district hospital and jail, and its mobile health teams are on alert to go other affected areas as requested.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been helping to coordinate structures at all levels, facilitating inter-agency assessments as well as working with the with the Government, Nepalese Red Cross, Army, Police, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).