British Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, on Saturday, announced that a further 92 British Army Gurkha engineers will be supporting the relief effort in Nepal.
“The additional military support will see the Gurkhas provide direct welfare support to the villages of serving Gurkhas and their families, as well as Gurkha veterans. Military personnel will also provide immediate assistance to other Nepalese civilians in their Area of Operations,” the British Foreign Defence Ministry said in its statement.
Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, said “This further deployment of British Army Gurkhas to Nepal will provide welfare assistance for Ghurkha families, soldiers and veterans who have been affected by last month’s earthquake.”
The Ministry said that the British Army Gurkhas deploying have a unique set of local knowledge, language skills and engineering experience, making them a vital element of the international response.
“We recognise that this terrible disaster will have directly affected our own Ghurkha community and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time,” the British Defence Secretary said.
The contingent from 36 Engineer Regiment, based in Maidstone, will deploy in two stages and once in Nepal are expected make their way into the more remote hills. The first stage arrived on Friday and the second on Saturday.
“Following the delivery of immediate care, the troops will construct permanent shelters and will assist in the repair of specific infrastructure. It is anticipated that they will be in Nepal for around three months,” the minister said.
This additional military contribution follows the deployment and offer of:
- An RAF C-17 aircraft has transported 54 tonnes of DFID’s humanitarian aid supplies to Nepal including more than 1,100 shelter kits and over 1,700 solar lanterns. The aircraft has also flown out of Nepal 33 British Nationals.
- A team of Gurkha engineers also flew on the C-17 to set up water purification infrastructure in Kathmandu.
- 3 Royal Air Force CH47 Chinook aircraft have left the UK to assist in the distribution of aid in the region.
- An RAF C130 has been ferrying supplies and equipment from India to Kathmandu.
- We now have approximately 200 other military personnel in the region supporting this deployment.
- Gurkhas permanently based in Nepal provided informal assistance to around 200 UK nationals at their base through first aid and
- logistical support before they were evacuated. They are now assisting in the more remote regions with reconnaissance missions. They are also able to provide language assistance to search and rescue teams as they speak both English and Nepali.
“The Ministry of Defence will continue to look at the requirement for further military assistance as well as how we might be able to help with the long term reconstruction effort,” the ministry further said.
The UK is playing a leading role in responding to the Nepal earthquake and is currently the largest donor to the relief operation, with our contribution now standing at more than £23 million. “This includes funding for the provision of clean water and shelter for affected families, as well as the deployment of 30 trauma medics and humanitarian experts,” the British Defence Secretary said.