International aid efforts mobilised

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Countries and organisations around the world have rushed to help Nepal, where a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake has killed more than 5,000 people:

The United Nations

The UN said Tuesday it would draw US$15 million (S$19.7 million) from its emergency fund to help kickstart relief operations in Nepal.

The World Food Programme said it has a plane loaded and ready in Dubai, which had not yet been able to leave due to overcrowding at the airport in Nepal. WFP said it planned to provide food assistance to some 1.4 million people in the country in acute need of food over the next three months, at a cost of US$116.5 million.

The children's agency Unicef, which says 1.3 million children need emergency aid, will send two cargo flights with 120 tonnes of supplies, including medical and hospital supplies, tents and blankets.

The World Health Organisation has already begun distributing medical supplies to cover the health needs of more than 80,000 people for three months.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it is sending nearly 20,000 plastic sheets and some 8,000 solar lamps.

Asia-Pacific

Japan, an expert in dealing with earthquakes, is to send 110 emergency workers and has committed US$8.4 million in financial assistance.

India has dispatched 13 military aircraft loaded with tonnes of food, blankets and other aid.

China, which already has a 62-strong search and rescue team on the ground that includes sniffer dogs, said Monday it had sent 55 personnel from a military rescue team with another 45 to follow Tuesday. Beijing has promised US$3.4 million in aid.

Australia has raised its aid to US$4.7 million and sent a military plane to bring in relief supplies and evacuate stranded citizens, while New Zealand has sent a medical and logistical team and pledged US$759,000 to the immediate relief effort.

Malaysia said it would deploy 30 rescue workers and 20 doctors.

South Korea said after the arrival of a first group of 15 experts on Monday, a team of some 40 rescue workers would be in place by Friday. It promised US$1 million in financial help.

Pakistan dispatched two C-130 aircraft carrying equipment for a 30-bed hospital. Food supplies as well as search and rescue teams have also arrived in Nepal.

Taiwan has pledged US$300,000 in humanitarian aid.

The Americas

The United States said it was sending a nearly 130-person disaster response team as well as 45 tonnes of cargo. Washington said it would send a total of US$10 million in relief.

Canada announced it would earmark US$4.1 million to help humanitarian agencies and has sent a C-17 military plane loaded with emergency supplies.

Europe

The European Union has released €3 million (S$4.3 million) in emergency aid.

Britain released US$7.6 million for the British Red Cross. A first aid plane landed on Monday and a second military C-17 transport plane laden with supplies and dozens of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers was sent.

France sent 10 specialised rescue workers who arrived Monday. Forty tonnes of humanitarian aid, including electricity generators, tents, medicines, surgical equipment and nutritional supplements will arrive by late Wednesday.

Russia has said it is sending two planes carrying around 100 specialists as well as equipment, including helicopters and drones.

A 45-strong team of rescue experts, doctors and other experts from Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg has left on a Belgian military plane.

Norway has pledged €15.5 million in aid, becoming one of the biggest donors, and has sent 34 rescue workers with sniffer dogs.

The Vatican has sent US$100,000.

Aid organisations

The International Federation of the Red Cross is to send two cargo planes of aid and has already distributed tarpaulins and ropes to those sleeping outside.

Britain's Oxfam said it would begin work on sanitation facilities in the temporary camps, working in partnership with Unicef. A British expert team was also en route to provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food supplies.

Plan International said 80 tonnes of food, shelter and telecoms gear would leave Dubai for Nepal on Tuesday. The children's charity said it was attempting to reach remote rural areas to assess the needs of those so far cut off by blocked roads.

French non-governmental organisations Doctors of the World (MDM) and Action against Hunger have experts on the ground.

Handicap International has 53 aid workers in Nepal who have started to distribute wheelchairs and crutches at two hospitals.

Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors without Borders) has sent a dozen doctors and logistical experts and is sending two planes each packed with 15 tonnes of aid.

Save the Children has started distributing essential products.