We stand with the people of Nepal in these catastrophic days and beyond…

On Saturday, I’m sure nobody has missed this information by now, disaster has struck in Nepal. The earthquake is now known to have injured at least 7,000 people. At least 4000 people have lost their lives. Uncountable numbers of people have lost their homes. The BBC writes that “several aftershocks have been reported – the latest on Monday night.” All across Nepal people are campaign outside for fear of their houses collapsing on them. Water, food and electricity are scarce resources and fears increase of outbreaks of disease. Almost all Nepalese soldiers are involved in the rescue mission in the aftermath of this disaster.

The development agency of the Norwegian IOGT movement, FORUT –  campaign for Development and Solidarity, has immediately made available NOK 500.000 (ca. $64.700) from their own funds to help their Nepalese partner organizations help the people affected. And FORUT has started a fundraising campaign to be able to extend the support.

FORUT has been in contact with our friends and colleagues in Nepal, from the civil society organizations CWIN and RDTA.

Here I want to share with you what our friends and colleagues in Nepal told FORUT: 

All staff of CWIN and RDTA have survived. Some of them have now lost their homes, or their houses have sustained damage. Private houses, older buildings and poorly built apartment blocks have collapsed, killing and maiming thousands of people. This kind of devastation covers a very large part of the country. The official death-toll is steadily rising. No-one has a full overview. Especially the status in the mountainous rural areas is to a large extent still unknown, due to breakdown of mobile and telephone communication.

Due to the frequency and strength of the aftershocks most people (including CWIN and RDTA staff) have slept outdoors, on the ground, these last two nights. It rained throughout most of last night, and it was fairly cold.

The earthquakes are a very disturbing experience, with the ground moving violently and forcefully from side to side. People are traumatised and afraid. Satellite imaging has shown that large parts of Nepal now has been displaced sideways with around 3 meters.

Most of the CWIN and RDTA buildings are still standing, but several have cracks and damages. Due to the strength of the aftershocks and the full-scale new earthquakes it is not safe to be in these buildings, at least not yet. A building that is badly damaged already can easily be brought down by an aftershock.

Many bridges and roads are damaged. Water and sewage pipes are broken. Electricity is cut off in large parts of the country. Food supplies and food preparation will gradually become a large challenge. Many people no longer have access to safe water, and there is a high risk of waterborne diseases.

RDTA confirms that the worst affected in their area are the poorest people – they had weak houses that collapsed in the first quake.

CWIN and RDTA staff are taking part in the immediate relief effort to the extent that they can, trying to organise the civilian population. At the moment, however, nothing has settled down to any kind of normalcy yet, and many things are still rather chaotic. This includes the initial relief effort, which for the time being is largely based on the help that people give to their neighbours. In the rural areas it may still take days and weeks before any assistance arrives from the government or international humanitarian organisations. The priority now is to enable Nepalese civil society organisations to take action as quickly as possible, as they in many cases will be the first ones to provide support to the civilian relief effort.”

I’ve met the heart-driven people of these organizations numerous times and I know what their work means for the society in Nepal. What is happening in Nepal right now is heart-breaking and tragic. Therefore I encourage everyone, if you can, don’t hesitate to donate and help in the immediate response to this disaster and for the recovery of Nepal.

Via FORUT, our friends and colleagues in Nepal ask us:

Please do not overload the email accounts or the mobile phones of your friends in Nepal with many messages now. It is difficult for them to recharge their computers and mobile phones, and the telecommunication networks are overloaded.

Your moral support, however, is very much appreciated, and we will convey that support to CWIN and RDTA!”