The International Organization for Migration (IOM) convoys left Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday morning (4/5) to anchor the organization’s field presence in two districts where up to 90 per cent of all structures were levelled by the April 25 earthquake, as relief items continued to arrive in the shattered country.
The first contingent of camp management, medical, engineering and support staff are today establishing themselves in Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha districts after two days of site assessments.
“We’re pushing out of the Kathmandu valley and setting up in places where the need is greatest,” said IOM Emergency Response manager Brian Kelly. “This is not a 40 metre dash – it is a marathon. We have been here since 2006 and we are committed to stay and assist the people of Nepal for as long as we are needed.”
These two hubs are the initial anchors for IOM to address the critical short-term housing and health needs of the tens of thousands of displaced people. The figures remain incomplete but by government estimates 191,058 houses have been destroyed and 175,162 damaged.
With the start of the monsoon less than two months away and winter hard on its heels, the timely assessment of the damage and the herculean task of demolishing what cannot be salvaged, is top of the agenda. Three experienced structural engineers are travelling with the teams to assist with that process.
More than 7,500 people died in the earthquakes and another 14,000 were injured. IOM health care professionals in the two districts will work closely with the displaced to anticipate potential disease outbreaks, link those displaced and living rough with existing government and foreign health teams and distribute UNFPA clean delivery kits to pregnant women.
As IOM’s operational footprint expands beyond the capital, it is also distributing shelter donations from the United States (USAID) and the United Kingdom (DFID). This has already seen 13,000 tarpaulins and 1,700 solar lamps weighing roughly 400 metric tonnes unloaded from aircraft arriving in Kathmandu, shepherded through customs, allocated to and distributed by domestic and international aid groups.
These internationally procured items are being linked with domestically and regionally sourced items to create kits which are adapted to meet specific needs. IOM expects to oversee the arrival of an additional 115,000 tarpaulins in the next three weeks, along with other critically needed supplies.
“This has been a challenging and complicated response, but we are getting up to full speed now,” said IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Maurizio Busatti. “The problems are gargantuan and constantly evolving, but IOM has the experience and capability to tackle things head on and make an impact.”