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Interview: WFP closely working with foreign countries including China, NGOs in relief efforts in quake-hit Nepal

Xinhua, May 6, 2015 Adjust font size:

The UN World Food Program (WFP) is closely working with the Nepal government, foreign countries including China and NGOs in relief efforts in disaster-affected areas in Nepal, WFP Deputy Emergency Coordinator for Nepal Earthquake Emergency Operations Richard Ragan said.

Nepal is struggling to come out from the deadly effect of a 7.9- magnitude earthquake that has claimed more than 7,500 lives.

"We had established the Humanitarian Staging Area just before a month of the earthquake, where we can store a lot of materials from our humanitarian partners and deliver to the hardship areas," Ragan told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Nepal already had the good position of storage for response to the possible disaster. "The food storage is at the area jointly established by UK Aid and the Nepal government at the premises of Tribhuvan International Airport," he added.

According to the UN official, 3,000 meter cube of cargoes have been transacted from the staging area till now.

"The cargoes that we are using are as a gift from China. Nepal army is receiving cargo from us and they are our supporting in distribution," he added. "We have three helicopters for transporting the food materials to the affected areas and we are planning to bring more helicopters."

Ragan also mentioned his visit to the affected areas, where he found coordination was satisfactory. "We have traveled to the various affected rural parts outside the valley. There is massive relief operation approaching to the people from UN, WFP and other humanitarian partners," he said. "The food agency of UNO is the primary organization to have food support to the affected people. The other UN sister agencies are helping in other logistical support."

"We are working closely with World Health Organization (WHO) in Nepal to provide essential medical support. We are working to rebuild the district and village level hospitals that were damaged during the earthquake," said the emergency coordinator.

In his analysis, "Shelter is one of the primary needs for the disaster-affected people. Food and medical support are other important needs after the earthquake."

He stressed that time is critical as things will get much more difficult in monsoon season, which is only 30 days away.

"We have learnt lesson from the Ebola crisis in Liberia and we are preparing for all kinds of possible health hazards. Water and sanitation, another concerned aspect will be addressed by the coming month," said Ragan, who has worked for some disaster affected countries.

The official worried that the development process which was taking its pace will be halted and need more time to recover from the disaster.

He believed that through international cooperation Nepal could overcome challenges. "It will be really difficult time for the Nepal government but UN agencies together with Nepalese and Chinese governments will be able to handle this situation."

"We have mobilized more than 100 experts who have already worked in crisis all over the world," said Ragan, adding that Executive Director of the WFP Ertharin Cousin had concluded her visit to earthquake-affected regions in Nepal and called for urgently-needed relief funds days ago.

WFP has provided food materials to 200,000 people through its partner local authorities and has dispatched sufficient amount of food to half a million people, he said.

The UN agency has a three-month plan to provide food to 1.3 million affected people. Endi