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Tents, food still not reaching Nepal quake victims

By Anil Giri,

Kathmandu : Two weeks after the deadly earthquake struck Nepal, hundreds of thousands of survivors and victims were still not getting food as well as tents and tarpaulin, officials said on Saturday.

No single grain of food has been distributed in Barpak, the National Human Rights Commission said on Saturday, urging the government to take all measures to ensure food reaches the quake survivors in the epicentre of the April 25 quake in Gorkha district.

“We have seen food laden trucks in the Gorkha district headquarters but people in Barpak, one of the worst hit areas, have been totally deprived of the essential items like food and medicine,” said commission member Sudip Patkak.

Some children and the elderly were suffering from flu-like symptoms and diarrhoea but no medical facilities were available in that area, he said.

Reports said that due to the absence of tents and tarpaulin, thousands of people were forced to live in open spaces.

Some of the quake survivors say they were still not getting relief material from the government.

“Except a few households, who are well connected with politicians, earthquake victims in some areas of Nuwakot are not getting any relief material,” Hari Tamang, a resident of Nuwakot, told IANS over phone.

He said 300 families out of 500 in his area were living in open spaces at the district headquarters Bidur.

After facing several difficulties in dispatching relief material to quake-hit areas, the UN office in Kathmandu on Saturday said responders continued to innovate while still using traditional methods to reach the affected people in remote, hard-to-reach areas.

“We have a short window to reach people in need,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN resident coordinator in Nepal.

“With the monsoon season just around the corner, our imperative is to provide communities with roofs over their heads and meet their basic needs.”

The increased airlift capacity, the decentralisation of logistical support through the creation of additional hubs close to the affected areas, and the now improved road network have also contributed to the speedy flow of relief goods, he said.

The government, however, was still struggling to arrange tents as demanded by quake victims.

“We have done our best in arranging food supply and other things but the demand for tents is so high that we are still lagging behind. That’s why the urban ministry has been requested to help with the problem,” home ministry spokesperson Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said on Saturday.

The home ministry said 1.06 lakh quintals of rice has been distributed in quake-hit areas, which is still not sufficient due to the large scale displacement of people.

Over 600,000 people were displaced due to the quake and forced to seek relief from the government.

So far, 309,000 tents have been distributed to the victims.

Authorities have demanded 600,000 tents, saying 6,47,722 houses were damaged in the earthquake.

A total of 66,635 houses were still inhabitable in 14 severely affected districts.

Sindhupalchok, Dolakha, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Dhading, Nuwakot and Bhaktapur were among the worst-hit districts.

Since Nepal has tent-manufacturing companies, the Himalayan country had initially hoped that the problem will be resolved soon. However, the demand has remained so high that now the government is purchasing tents from neighbouring countries.

“Local suppliers recently brought 1,02,500 tents from Chennai, India. We will purchase them. The suppliers have been told to purchase 100,000 more tents from India,” said urban ministry spokesperson Padma Kumar Mainali.

Mainali said they were also trying to purchase 200,000 tents from China.

The West Bengal government would provide an additional 50,000 tents by Monday. Earlier, it had given some 100,000 tents for the quake survivors.