How you can help Nepal earthquake victims

By staff writer, Associated Press
By staff writer, Associated Press |

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A child peers out of a tent in Kathmandu where citizens have taken to living on the streets.

Thousands of people are forced to huddle on the streets of Kathmandu after Saturday's magnitude 7.9 earthquake. Here's how you can help them.

A Nepalese group in Hong Kong has appealed for donations of emergency relief supplies including blankets, tents, flashlights and medicine. 

Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) chairman Durga Gurung said it was difficult to know exactly what was needed. "We do not know the situation very clearly as the mobile phone network is patchy," Gurung said. "There are still smaller earthquakes happening occasionally. We are hoping to do what we can to help."

The group has already bought 1,000 blankets and 1,000 flashlights, and it plans to open a bank account soon so that it can accept donations, Gurung said.

Nepalese consul general Mudita Bajracharya said the consulate had been contacted by many people wishing to volunteer for the rescue efforts in Nepal, and staff were still trying to work out with officials on the ground what help was needed. She added that the consulate would waive visa requirements for volunteers.

The death toll in the Himalayan nation has surpassed 3,300. China and other Asian nations, the United States and European nations have sent emergency crews to assist those scrambling to find survivors in Kathmandu and in cut-off rural areas.

Plan International regional communications manager Mike Bruce said: "People are sleeping on the streets and cooking outside for the most part. And we are talking about very, very poor areas of Nepal - areas that are already suffering a great deal."

Other aid organisations said stocks of essential supplies were fast running out and appealed for donations to support relief efforts.

Hong Kong Red Cross said it had contributed HK$500,000 for immediate aid work. "Roads have been damaged or blocked by landslides and communication lines are down, preventing us from reaching local Red Cross branches to get accurate information," said Jagan Chapagain, Asia-Pacific director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. "We anticipate that there will be considerable destruction and loss of life." (You can donate to the International Red Cross here.)

World Vision Hong Kong said more than 200 of the group’s staff were in Nepal ready to join the relief effort, and it had contributed HK$1.56 million to help survivors. (You can donate to World Vision here.)

Unicef said it had rescuers on the ground and was bringing in supplies including water purification tablets, hygiene kits, tarpaulins and food. (You can donate to Unicef here.)

The UN World Food Programme says logistics and emergency response teams have arrived in Kathmandu. (You can donate to the World Food Programme here.)

International development organisation Mercy Corps warns that prices for essential supplies in Nepal are rising quickly. The group says it is working with the Nepal Red Cross Society to help distribute essential household supplies, shelter kits and tarpaulins. Mercy Corps has 90 staffers on the ground in Nepal, some of whom have lost their homes in the quake. (You can donate to Mercy Corps here.)

Save the Children says it has staff in 63 districts and emergency kits, hygiene materials and tarpaulins already in Nepal and ready for distribution. Additional supplies and emergency recovery teams are being flown in. (You can donate to Save the Children here.)

Oxfam says its team in Nepal is assessing needs and it is sending emergency food, water and sanitation supplies. “Communication is currently very difficult. Telephone lines are down and the electricity has been cut off making charging mobile phones difficult. The water is also cut off,” country director Cecilia Keizer says in a statement. (You can donate to Oxfam here.)

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, says it is sending medical staff and supplies to Nepal, including emergency surgical teams. (You can donate to Doctors Without Borders here.)

Web payment company Paypal announced it was waiving fees for donations to the Nepal relief effort. It was delivering donations through its PayPal Giving Fund to several of the aid groups listed above, among others. (You can donate to Paypal's fund here.)