The global Red Cross network continues to deliver lifesaving relief supplies and humanitarian assistance to families in Nepal, one month after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated communities in the mountainous country. The American Red Cross recently released a one-month update about its ongoing efforts in the disaster zone.
Nepal Red Cross volunteers began helping within the first minutes of the quake, providing first aid to fellow neighbors and carrying out search and rescue efforts. Since that time, more than 7,000 Red Cross volunteers and staff have been mobilized to help people impacted by the earthquake. Over the course of the past month, the global Red Cross network has supported its local counterparts in providing healthcare to the injured, distributing clean water, meals, shelter materials to survivors, and many other services.
The earthquake and aftershocks—including a 7.3 magnitude quake on May 12—have taken more than 8,600 lives, injured thousands and left more than 800,000 homes destroyed or damaged. The Red Cross is also handing out shelter kits, which include tools to help people fix their homes.
As of May 18, the American Red Cross has spent or committed $9.2 million to the response thus far. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the funds are being used to provide essential relief supplies such as water containers, tarps and kitchen sets. In addition, the American Red Cross deployed 19 disaster specialists to Nepal to support emergency relief efforts, set up cash transfer programming so survivors can meet immediate needs, and is providing information management and telecommunications capacity. The American Red Cross is also providing remote mapping and information management support—which are essential to local Red Cross branches, who can be overwhelmed during large-scale emergencies.
Aid is reaching people in remote communities, but accessibility remains a major challenge. Aftershocks and landslides have caused more damage and present serious risks to survivors and relief workers, while limited transportation infrastructure and rugged terrain impede delivery of supplies. Regardless, teams are hiking in supplies and navigating their way into remote communities, who are continually proving themselves to be resilient in the face of much hardship and heartache.
American Red Cross President and CEO, Gail McGovern, visited hard-hit communities in May, where she met earthquake survivors, including children who learned about earthquake preparedness from Red Cross teams at their school. In a blog post, McGovern wrote of her experience, “One of the most remarkable scenes I witnessed occurred when we stopped at a school that had been mostly destroyed in the disaster. Thankfully classes were not in session when the earthquake hit. And in a wonderful act of community resiliency, the students who normally attended class in the building had turned what remained of the structure into a field hospital of sorts. Upwards of 450 young people were working there – caring for the injured, handing out relief supplies and administering basic first aid. As it turns out, the students had been previously trained in preparedness activities through a partnership with the American Red Cross, the Nepal Red Cross and one of our generous donors that was active in a number of Nepalese schools. In the midst of such destruction and heartbreak, it was an amazingly uplifting moment to see so many young people actively helping their neighbors using the training they had received in a more peaceful time.”
More than 25 Red Cross Red Crescent societies from around the world are on the ground, supporting the Nepal Red Cross to carry out its lifesaving work to families in need.