Citing lack of funds, the United Nations on Monday said that it may be compelled to terminate the emergency helicopter service in the humanitarian relief efforts in the earthquake-hit Nepal earlier than planned if it did not get more funding amounting to USD 9.2 million in order to continue the operations in the country.
Any potential interruption to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service, managed by the World Food Programme (WFP), will leave at least 146,000 people in remote communities affected by the devastating April 25 earthquake and its powerful aftershock on May 12 without the support they require to survive through the monsoon and beyond, including emergency shelter and food and livelihoods support, the UN said in a statement released today.
“Airlift support is crucial for the ongoing relief operation,” said Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal, in the statement.
“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. UNHAS has been proving essential to overcoming the many logistical challenges, now compounded by the monsoon, and will remain indispensable as we move in the weeks to come with preparing these communities for their survival through the upcoming winter.”
According to the UN, 139 remote communities that are currently inaccessible by road have been served by UNHAS helicopters to date.
UNHAS had sought USD 18 million to continue to support the ongoing relief operation in Nepal until the end of October.
It, however, has received only USD 8.8 million, 49 per cent of the total requirement, leaving a USD 9.2 million shortfall to date. If the gap is not met soon, deliveries will cease at the end of August, the UN said.
“Because of great need in remote areas, exacerbated by the recent monsoon weather delays, we currently have a significant backlog,” said Edmondo Perrone, the coordinator of Logistics Cluster. “We have pending requests to move about 650 metric tons of emergency supplies, and new requests for the movement of cargo continue to be received daily. About 35 organizations are waiting for airlifts, which emphasises how desperate the need is for this service right now.”
UNHAS provides the entire humanitarian community involved in earthquake response with free airlift services, both cargo and passenger. It delivers 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.
Since its establishment on April 29, and despite the adverse weather, UNHAS allowed for moving more than 2,600 humanitarian workers and 1,457 metric tons of humanitarian supplies across the country. In fact, its fleet has been utilised 30 per cent more than was originally envisioned, as the need was much greater than anticipated, leading to depletion of funding reserves.