Post-Earthquake to Relief Fund: Roles of Aid Agency, Nation in Nepal
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 8 Jun 2015
A total of 88 foreign people were killed leaving behind 80 as missing persons owing to devastating April 25th Earthquake. About six-dozen nations-states assisted on humanitarian aids and supplies in post-quake survivors. Among them, military with sniffer dogs from 18 countries arrived soon in Nepal. They mostly engaged on conducting transitional search and rescue operations demolishing human-trapped buildings in urban centers and countryside areas too. Relief operation was carried out to quake-affected family providing khana, pana, nana and chhana (food, water, cloth and roof). The relief efforts could not be reached in inaccessible distant areas. Poor, marginalized, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups were lately received humanitarian search and rescue supplies. Whatever the donation announced by the nations or aid agencies, they allocated to mobilize their own-mission team. Each team comprises military forces, sniffer dogs, relief volunteers, physicians with mobile hospitals, required equipments, power generators and among others. Similarly, emergency relief materials such as dry food, water, tents, blankets, medicines and kitchen-sets were supplied. Many countries deployed civilian humanitarian affair teams including Red Cross, experts and emergency need materials. Most of the countries supplied kind (human capitals and relief materials) rather to grant in cash into Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund. Nepal has a long history of incapability to run both search-relief and rescue-recovery operations owing to massive corruption, bad-governance and unaccountability. Aid agency’s lost hope shall only be regained if a new national Government is formed soon.
A great 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25th 2015 at 11.56 Hrs Saturday disrupted the lives of all Nepali. Second 7.4 and third 7.3 magnitudes of April 26th and May 12th further aggravate getting aid to survivors. Nepal encountered last massive earthquake 80 years ago in February 1934 that killed over 17,000 people. Several pagodas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site almost collapsed. Many Gajur (pinnacles) of temples were destroyed around the cities. Over 500 Christian worshiping people have died in the collapses. They prayed god saying, “Hare Ram Hare Krishna” rather remembering to Jesus. Home Ministry data shows that there are 49 quake-hit districts of 75. As of May 31st, 8,686 including 88 foreign people were killed whereas nearly third 21,844 are injured. And, 290 people are reported to be missing comprising 80 foreigners. The Multinational Military Coordination Center (MMCC) reported that over 12,212 people were rescued by both air and land. A total of 500,223 private and public houses have fully been destroyed where 269,159 houses are partly damaged.
A total of 56 countries arrived in Nepal with search and rescue teams and equipments and relief materials immediate after the quake. International community and friendly neighbors namely India, China, United Nations, USA, UK, Norway, Australia, Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan and among others provided humanitarian aid and response. The Nepal Army (NA) has been leading search, rescue, relief and recovery operations. The Army said the phase I for search and rescue was almost over on May 12th. The Army has been coordinating foreign military forces in the name of “Operation Sankat Mochan” under its Multi-national Military Coordination Center. Coordinating different foreign humanitarian teams and Armed Police and Nepal Police, the Nepal Army has put all its efforts and manpower in search and rescue operations and relief materials distribution to the desperate quake victims in affected areas far and near. The NA has mobilized its soldiers soon after the quake struck in Nepal regardless of limited resources and equipments. The military personnel were deployed and have been working actively in the quake-hit areas despite some of their houses were destroyed or damaged and in a few cases family members or relatives were killed.
For humanitarian aids and supplies, Nepal’s immediate neighbor India has been the first country from abroad to response full-fledged rescue and relief support to the crisis in the name of Operation Maitri. Within 15 minutes of the quake, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted first and directed his officials and security forces to prepare for dispatch to search, rescue and relief teams to Nepal.
Under Operation Maitri, India provided tons of baby food, medical supplies, insulin, water, food and dry rations, blankets, tents, water filter, oxygen generators and cylinders and relief materials. Over 15 National Disaster Response Force teams with more than 1,000 personnel and rescue dogs arrived in Nepal within six to seven hours of the earthquake. Hundreds of retired Indian Gorkha and Indian Air Forces started to work in Kathmandu and Barpak (epicenter of earthquake) under the coordination of Nepal Army. India came with helicopters, medical teams, three-field hospitals, two mobile teams of specialist doctors, light vehicles, earth moving equipment, Indian Army Engineer Task Forces, ambulances and among others. Indian army also deployed at the Everest Base Camp to search, rescue and assist climbers. More than 20,000 Indian citizens and others were evacuated by air and road from Kathmandu. India assisted to evacuate 170 nationals of 15 countries.
Chinese Government called emergency meeting to coordinate relief and rescue in Nepal the following day morning of the quake. China pledged to speed up assistance along with emergency aid including tents, generators, water purification equipments and medical supplies. The meeting decided to repair Tibet-Nepal road connection. Emergency aid provided to those who trapped in Mount Everest base camp. A 62-member China International Search and Rescue Team arrived in Katmandu the following day of quake. China took back home hundreds of stranded tourists in Nepal. More than a billion Nepalese currency has been granted as an aid in kind rather then cash. China sent about 200 tons of emergency aid worth $ 3.2 million in the phase I. Similarly, China sent a second batch of emergence relief worth $ 6.4 million. Two mobile field hospital and 24 vehicles were handed to Nepal Army on May 22nd 2015. Nepal’s long-standing one-China policy encourages China to provide more supports for the construction of Nepal, stated by Chinese President XI.
On May 15th, Indian PM Modi and his Chinese counterpart Keqiang in Beijing have agreed to work jointly on Nepal for its recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development endeavors respecting country’s independence and sovereignty. Both leaders vow to support Nepal without any precondition as much as they can or a country looking forward to seek assistance and support from them. Both countries agreed to expand border trade at Qiangla (Lipu Lekh), but it is a territory of western Nepal.
The US Government announced $ 10 million, but several other agencies donated separately. Around 300 US Air Force personnel were deployed to support Nepal. Some disaster response teams such as Urban Search and Rescue Virginia Task Force, Dover Air Force Base, Urban Search and Rescue California Task Force, US Green Beret soldiers, 100 Marines, two helicopters and four V-22 Osprey aircraft arrived soon. A US air force named Osprey aircraft carrying relief materials blew the roof off a building while landing in Charikot, the district headquarters of Dolakha.
The high-level US official insisted to bring more their troops, but Nepal Army refused while large number of military personnel were already returned home. Similarly, the RAF Chinook (large, twin engine and twin rotor) helicopters were sent with life-saving aid supplies to help Nepal’s desperate need, but returned back to UK on May 15th while Nepal Government rejected its offer. The Chinook was rejected due to structurally weakened building in Nepal. Helicopters were grounded in Delhi for a week. The Chinook desired to help the WFP in distribution of aid.
On May 20th, the US Embassy in Kathmandu stated that they will continue to work for earthquake response and recovery works along with additional emergency shelter materials, safe drinking water, hygiene kits and improved sanitation to the most critical districts as well as will assist law enforcement and justice sectors to recover from the earthquake.
However, troops from India and Canada are still working in phase I (search, rescue and relief distribution) and phase II (recovery and rehabilitation). However, the Nepal Army lacks equipments for rehabilitation and reconstruction. For the civilian organizations, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) coordinated 102 foreign organizations with 12 operating clusters.
United Kingdom donated $ 130 million comprising $ 51 (39%) million by the Government and $ 79 (61%) by the public. Thirty-tones of humanitarian aid and 8 tones of search and rescue equipments were supplied. The DFID deployed more than 100 experts including medical doctors, disaster and rescue workers, engineers from the British Army’s Gorkha Brigades and others. Defense Secretary announced a further 92 British Army Gorkha engineers will be supporting the relief efforts in Nepal.
The British Embassy stated that they will support to treat 18,000 injured people, rebuilding of 1,000 damaged health posts, immunizations for 3,000 children and access to family planning for 48,000 women. A leading appeal by an actress Joanna Lumley collected more than Rs. 7 billion as donation to support Nepal’s victims.
On May 12th, Japan announced Emergency Grant Aid amount $ 14 million to support food, emergency medical care, shelter, health, water and sanitation through World Food Program, International Federation of Red Cross and UNICEF. There had been a great hope with multilateral donors namely World Bank, Asia Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, but their grant did not attract that much to Nepal and Nepali people.
Customs delays hampered relief and recovery efforts in Nepal, stated by the UN Nepal representative Jamie McGoldrick. April 29th, the United Nations launched a $415 million emergency appeal aiming to support Government efforts to address most critical needs of millions of quake-affected people for shelter, water and sanitation, food security and protection for the next three months across 39 of 75 districts. UNICEF appealed for donation to 1.7 million children who were driven in the open air, desperate need of drinking water and sanitation, psychological counsel, temporary shelters and protection from disease outbreak.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies activated US$ 535,664 emergency fund to mobilize its volunteers for fist aid, search and rescue and blood bank supplies. Doctors without Borders provided rapid intervention with 11 team member for Gorkha, the epicenter of earthquake. They also provided water and sanitation in Tudikhel (Kathmandu) and first-aid materials to Bhaktapur hospital.
European Union showed a tangible solidarity on Nepal’s quake distress. Within the first 24 hours after the disaster struck, the European Commission dispatched humanitarian experts and mobilized 3 million Euros as donation to help address the most urgent needs: clean water, food, medicine, emergency shelter and telecommunications. The joint EU-UN mission, an additional contribution of emergency aid has been made, bringing the total EU humanitarian aid to 6 million Euros.
Australia allocated $ 1.5 million to Nepal’s victims. It did not grant directly to the Government Disaster fund, but provided to UN relief efforts, WHO, Australian Red Cross, RedR Australian relief organization and other Australian NGOs. Two Boeing C-17 aircraft carrying 15 tons of Australian aid, two RAAF aero medical evacuation teams, 2 humanitarian experts, crisis-response team and 70 defense personnel were arrived in Nepal.
Canada contributed $ 4.16 million donation to Nepal and $832,000 to the Canadian Red Cross. A Boeing C-17 supplied blankets, jerry-cans, kitchen sets, hygiene kits and tarps. A total of 150 Canadian troops and 30 Disaster Assistance Response Team and others arrived in Nepal on April 27th. Germany bestowed $ 68.34 million supporting quake victims. It sent 52 relief workers team including physicians, searchers and dog squads. The German Development Ministry declared 30 million Euros for the reconstruction program such as rebuild infrastructure, including homes and municipal buildings and water supply systems.
France chartered three flights to meet humanitarian needs such as shelters, medical equipments, medicines, water pumping and treatment equipment and food rations. France deployed 40 civil security personnel, 95 humanitarian actors for health emergency preparedness response agency through Red Cross.
Algeria offered $ 1 million donation with 70 relief workers, medicines and other supplies. Austria provided $835,000 grant to conduct search and rescue under the Austrian Red Cross. A 34-member team including 6 army medical team, air force crew and foreign ministry officials of Bangladesh provided 10 tons of tents, dry food, water, blankets and others. Denmark donated $744,000 aid to victims. Denmark’s Development Minister Mogens Jensen vowed to contribute more if there is further need of cooperation. Even Haiti granted $ 1 million to quake victims. Israel sent 264 personnel to support search and rescue team and medical team. The Netherlands donated $4.45 million Nepal and sent 62 members and 8 dogs team along with physicians, nurses and engineers.
New Zealand with $ 771,000 humanitarian aid contributed 45 urban search and rescue technicians including an engineer. Norway donated $17.3 million deploying search and rescue team consisting of search dogs, emergency medical team and fire fighters. Emergency personnel such as army doctors, nurses with special search and rescue teams with sniffer dogs deployed from Pakistan arrived soon in Nepal.
Russia contributed a 90 member rescuers and rescue equipment and other food products. South Africa sent search and rescue team consisting police, dogs and other emergency aid materials. Sri Lanka dispatched 17 tones of medicine, engineering, signal and ordinance equipment, supportive transport requirements, water bottles, health accessories, water purification tablets and dry rations. A team of 156 persons comprising 4 medical consultants, 11 airmen, 14 sailors and 97 service personnel were also mobilized. A group of 44 Armed Forces and 72 Army, 14 Navy and 11 Air force personnel were also sent for emergency relief.
Spain donated 30 tons of humanitarian aid such as 3,200 blankets, 1,680 awning and 500 kitchen sets through Spanish Red Cross. In order to locate Spanish citizen, 47 soldiers from Military Emergencies Unit and seven agents of the Civil Guard were also deployed. Switzerland supplied 38 tones of relief materials and experts such as physician, building surveyor and a water quality treatment.
South Korea offered $ 1 million donation worth of 1,000 tarpaulin tents, food packages for 230 families. Similarly, 2.4 tons of rice, 320 bottles of vegetable oil and salts for 740 villagers were also provided. A total of 42 search and rescue workers with two sniffer dogs and 17 medical personnel also mobilized in quake-hit areas. Allocating $ 1.5 million grant, Sweden sent a flight chartered that carried out a team of 60 search and rescue workers and 6 dogs.
Similarly, large numbers of countries such as Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Brunei, Colombia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Maldives, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Singapore, Slovenia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and Vietnam contributed humanitarian aid and sent search and rescue workers for transitional relief and recovery in Nepal.
A U.S. helicopter carrying its six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers were killed while helicopter crashed on its route to earthquake-stricken Kathmandu from Dolakha district on May 12th. US helicopters in rescue and relief operations were seen flying over Tibet border. A total of 4,521 military personnel along with 141 CANINE from 34 countries were active in Nepal for humanitarian response. However, there were 4,316 foreign military personnel from 18 countries landed in Nepal to provide search and rescue operations. Almost all military personnel were returned back to their respective countries except 76 military personnel. Among them, 69 military from India and 7 from Canada are still in Nepal to help in the transitional humanitarian support along with relief operations.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) directed the Government to take action against the UN World Food Program (WFP) while it distributed substandard rice to the quake-hit survivors as relief materials. The team of NHRC found inedible rice stored Samaj Sewa building in Mahadevsthan, Kavre. 1,478 quintals rice to quake victims was distributed from Nepal Red Cross Society. Large amount of food products provided from India, USA and Bangladesh as aid for quake victims have been found substandard, selling poor quality products.
Aid agency did not show interest to put money in the PM established Disaster Relief Fund. There are numbers of reasons. First, Nepal lacks of leadership, without vision and mission. PM Koirala is inactive with octogenarian age and poor health. Aid agency and country do not think Koirala-led coalition Government can lead and complete search, rescue, relief, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction in this transitional Nepal.
Second, most of the Ministers of Koirala-led Government took a huge personal benefit from his honesty. Koirala never tried to come out from such ill famous and ambitious ministers. Moreover, Koirala failed to control bad-governance, corruption, unaccountability and ambiguity. Third, Nepal Army appeared on the frontline in the name of transitional search, rescue, relief, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction, but political parties are behind the security forces. There is a fear whether Nepal Army will easily back into the barracks after accomplishment of emergency tasks. Fourth, political parties’ did not show any interest to establish the local government conducting local elections. International community establishes NGOs as alternative of local government.
Fifth, Government is very slow to implement any emergency issue due to its lengthy bureaucratic paperwork or procedure, their unwillingness to serve on humanity and among others. Bureaucrats concentrate more on commission and corruption. None of the bureaucrats free from party-politics. Sixth, some of the donors wish to fulfill their own-vested political zest and zeal to watch, encircle and play with two emerging superpowers ie, India and China from Nepal. Such aid agencies wish to fulfill country’s need sending their own-people as advisors or consultants, office equipments and vehicles into NGOs and aid flows back to respective countries. NGOs personnel heavily influence the donor community weakening the government agencies and ruling parties for their vested interests.
Lastly, in some cases, commission from NGO-programs received by aid agency also plays a pivotal rule for not to donate at the Government established fund. London-based Amnesty International urges Nepal to end gender, people with disabilities, (political) belief, color, constituent, caste and ethnic discriminations in aid distribution. Equitable distribution of relief materials and aid transparency are today’s urgency.
Friendly neighboring countries China and India have announced huge financial assistance in cash and kind for immediate (search, rescue and relief) operations, short-term recovery and rehabilitation and long-term reconstruction. PM’s Disaster Relief Fund asked all NGOs, aid agency and nation to funnel their money through routine aid, but failed to convince them. Moreover, Nepalese Government failed to assure and maintain disaster aid diplomacy. Aid agency’s lost hope shall only be regained if a new national Government is formed soon.
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Bishnu Pathak, a Ph.D. holder in conflict management and human rights, is president and director of the Conflict Study Center. He is a Board Member of TRANSCEND International for Nepal and also a BM of the TRANSCEND Peace University. Besides writing the book Politics of People’s War and Human Rights in Nepal, he has published a number of research articles on issues related to Human Rights, UN, Security, Peace, Civil-Military Relations, Community Policing, and Federalism.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 Jun 2015.
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