The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, killed at least 5,000 people and injured thousands more, and the number of casualties continues to climb. The international community, especially other nations in South Asia, has responded quickly but more needs to be done to help the thousands of refugees.
Survivors of the earthquake still lack adequate shelter, food, water, and medical supplies despite international aid efforts. Reports have estimated that over 30,000 people are living in temporary refugee camps and almost 1 million children are living in “severely affected” areas. These children are especially vulnerable to waterborne diseases because the damage has severely limited access to safe water.
Supplies are needed, but aid workers are in even higher demand. Giving medical attention to thousands of injured people will require more doctors and nurses than are currently in Nepal. In addition, damaged roads have prevented aid from reaching people outside the capital, Kathmandu. Without better distribution of aid and relief, rural communities, some of which can only be reached by helicopter, will continue to suffer.
Countries have been quick to provide aid and assist the Nepalese military in search-and-rescue efforts. India, Nepal’s neighbor to the west, sent its National Disaster Response Force within four hours of the earthquake and continues to send supplies and aid workers. China, which also borders Nepal, has provided supplies and rescue and medical teams, and Pakistan has constructed a 30-bed hospital. According to the Pentagon, the U.S. has sent a disaster-response team and search-and-rescue team with 45 tons of aid supplies. Australia, Israel, Japan, and Great Britain have also provided humanitarian assistance and supplied millions of dollars in aid.
Private aid agencies also are flocking to Nepal to provide assistance and have begun collecting funds to support relief efforts. The International Red Cross, AmeriCares, Catholic Relief Service, MercyCorps, Samaritan’s Purse, UNICEF, and World Vision are a few of the organizations that are attempting to meet the immense need in Nepal. They have deployed medical teams, distributed emergency supplies, and provided temporary shelter for the earthquake victims along with other critical services.
In the past, Americans have given generously when large natural disasters occur around the world. When a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan in 2011 and killed over 18,000 people, Americans donated over $736.9 million toward relief and recovery efforts. Private contributions are critical for these charitable organizations operating in Nepal today. If Americans show the same level of generosity toward Nepal that was shown toward Japan in 2011, it would significantly help the Nepalese earthquake victims.
As rescue teams and aid workers reach the rural areas of Nepal in the next few days, the number of those killed, injured, and in need is expected to increase significantly. Although the news from Nepal is likely to be bleak in the coming weeks, continued support from America and the international community can bring hope and relief to this devastated country.
Emily Runge is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.