KATHMANDU – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is mounting an emergency operation to help survivors of the Nepal earthquake, with food trucks rolling today into the district of Gorkha, one of the worst-hit areas.
WFP plans to provide food for 1.4 million people in urgent need of assistance over the next three months at a cost of US$116.5 million. Distributions of rice are expected to start tomorrow (Wednesday) in Gorkha, using stocks that WFP already had in-country from its existing operations prior to the earthquake.
Trucks with WFP food are in Gorkha trying to reach the survivors, but landslides and poor roads are making conditions difficult. A helicopter will fly to the area to transport food onwards to more remote villages that are inaccessible by road. Emergency food supplies, including high-energy biscuits, are also being brought in by air from Bangladesh and Dubai in the next days.
A plane from the WFP-managed UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Malaysia arrived in Kathmandu this morning carrying field hospitals, medical supplies and aid workers.
“Our thoughts are with the people of Nepal at this terrible time,” said Pippa Bradford, WFP’s Country Director and Representative in Nepal. “Despite their own personal tragedies and difficult working conditions, our Nepali staff and their international colleagues are working flat out to help those in need of humanitarian assistance. Time is of the essence to get food to those who urgently needed it.”
In addition to food distributions, as the lead of the humanitarian community’s Logistics Cluster, WFP is also providing logistics support for the entire aid operation in Nepal.
WFP hopes to have two helicopters operational in the coming days to transport both humanitarian cargo and aid workers to the worst-affected areas.
At Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, WFP is operating a relief hub for the management and dispatch of the cargo flooding into the country. This Humanitarian Staging Area was opened last month as part of WFP’s emergency preparedness work with the government of Nepal, which has been focusing on preparing for such an emergency for several years now. As co-lead of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, WFP is also facilitating the humanitarian community’s communications systems.
In order to support logistics, telecommunications and air transport operations for the entire humanitarian community, WFP will need US$34 million over the next three months.
It is estimated that up to 8 million people have been affected by the earthquake. Initial estimates from WFP’s assessment teams — working with satellite imagery and existing data — indicate that around 1.4 million people in priority areas urgently need food assistance. Five teams are now conducting field assessments in 11 districts to verify these findings.
WFP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions and has appealed for anyone who wishes to help to make a donation at www.wfp.org/nepal.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.
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For more information please contact (email address: [email protected]):
Silke Buhr, WFP/Bangkok, Mob. +66-81-701-9208
Sakun Gujral, WFP/Kathmandu, Mob. +977-985-110-5347
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2321, Mob. +39-346-7600-521
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 8241112
Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington DC, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993