United Nations provides humanitarian assistance to flood affected families

Kathmandu, 29 August 2008 – Heavy flooding by the Saptakoshi River in Sunsari and Saptari districts in Eastern Region continues to impact an increasing number of families who have been displaced and lost their lands and houses. The challenges to help the families will grow more in the coming weeks as the number of affected persons in need of assistance has grown to more than 70,000 in the past 10 days.

The United Nations (UN) in Nepal lauds the efforts made by the Government of Nepal, business community, civil society, NGOs and international community to provide humanitarian relief to the flood-affected families.

“The UN extends its heart felt sympathies to the affected families. I also want to pay tribute to the Government at the central and local level for its rapid response to manage and coordinate the relief effort. The UN and its humanitarian partners are ready to support these efforts with expertise and resources as needed” said Robert Piper, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal. He explained that several UN agencies have been on the ground involved and supporting relief activities from Day One.

The Humanitarian Coordinator also voiced concerns about reports that the aid operation has been hampered by insecurity, both in the affected area and further West where food convoys are being delayed by disruptions on the roads. “The movement of humanitarian personnel and goods should not be hampered in any way” added Mr. Piper, calling on all parties to respect humanitarian principles to ensure that relief reaches those who need it most. He also called on the authorities to ensure measures are taken to protect the displaced themselves, particularly women and children living in vulnerable camp conditions.

The United Nations and its NGO partners have deployed a range of resources to support the efforts of local Government to meet immediate needs. Coordinated by field staff of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based out of temporary Information Centres in Inaruwa and Rajbiraj:

– The World Food Programme (WFP) with financial support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), is providing an initial 15-day food basket consisting of rice, pulses, salt and vegetable oil to 50,000 flood victims and is putting in place food supplies for up to 30 days for families unable to return to their homes. – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FA0) has committed US$ 100,000 for fodder, feed and vaccination of flood affected animals, and for a rapid assessment of the needs for rehabilitation of agriculture.

– The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided water purifying products to meet the needs of 25,000 people for a month and hygiene kits for 50,000 people. Hand pumps, latrines and garbage facilities are being provided throughout the camps as well as private bathing spaces for women and girls. A nutritional response is being coordinated and 13,000 oral re-hydration salts have been provided for children suffering from diarrhea, while 8,000 family-size insecticide nets will be distributed. Protection and psycho-social support is being provided for vulnerable children and measures are being put in place to re-establish education.

– The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided Emergency Health Kits, to meet the needs of 40,000 people for 3 months, as well as supplies to assist with Malaria, Diarrhea and other emergency medicines for up to 50,000 cases

– The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has delivered Clean Health Delivery Kits, Hygiene kits and other supplies to meet the needs of some 3,000 people. UNFPA medical staff are also deployed in the District with a Mobile Reproductive Health Unit and have provided Reproductive Health Services to more than 12,000 people in temporary camps with their district partners

– The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has provided logistics support to the Ministry of Home Affairs to move relief items from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur. An IOM expert in camp management has also been deployed in the last 24 hours.

UN agencies are appealing for additional resources from donors to replace depleted stocks that had been pre-positioned in the region, to help sustain the ongoing humanitarian effort and to fund early recovery activities.

Further information including reports, maps and response matrices can be found at the Nepal Information Platform http://www.un.org.np.

For more information contact: Aditee Maskey, Coordination Officer, OCHA Nepal, +977 98510-72938

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