UN emergency helicopter service in Nepal may stop, UN office says


KATHMANDU, Aug. 10 (Xinhua)– The United Nations Office in Nepal has said that UN helicopter services which are being deployed for humanitarian relief purposes in earthquake-ravaged Nepal may be terminated earlier than planned unless more funding is secured to continue operations.

In a press statement on Monday, the UN office said that a total of 139 remote communities that are currently inaccessible by roads have been served by UN helicopters across the Himalayan country.

The UN Office quoted the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) as saying that the UNHAS needs 18 million U.S. dollars to continue to support the ongoing relief operation until the end of October.

“To date, only 8.8 million U.S. dollars (or 49 percent) was received, leaving a 9.2 million dollar shortfall. If the gap is not met soon, deliveries will cease at the end of August,” the UN office said.

Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal said in the statement”Airlift support is crucial for the ongoing relief operation. Without it, humanitarian partners will not be able to continue providing vital assistance to communities in far-flung areas, most of which were severely affected by the earthquakes.”

The UNHAS, the World Food Programme managed service, provides the entire humanitarian community involved in earthquake response with free airlift services, both cargo and passenger.

The UNHAS delivered supplies to remote communities on behalf of the government, as well as more than 135 NGOs, UN agencies, donors, the diplomatic community and other humanitarian partners so far.

Since its establishment on April 29 after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake jolted the Himalayan Nation on April 25, the UNHAS allowed for moving more than 2,600 humanitarian workers and 1,457 metric tons of humanitarian supplies to remote areas.

The UN Office said that any potential interruption to UNHAS service will leave at least 146,000 people in remote communities devastated by the April 25 and May 12 earthquakes without the support they require to survive through the monsoon and beyond, including emergency shelter and food and livelihoods support.

Various UN agencies were involved in Nepal’s relief distribution after the earthquake hit the country on April 29 which claimed nearly 9,000 people and leaving 22,000 injured.

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