'Now or never' aid plea for quake victims at risk from harsh winter

More than two million people have been left homeless by the earthquake with the harsh Himalayan winter approaching. The UN says it only has enough money to keep its fleet of helicopters operating for one more week. With many victims stranded in remote mountain valleys, they are essential to the aid effort.

The World Food Programme says it has enough food to feed 500,000 people over the winter, but 2.3 million need to be fed. There is also a shortage of 200,000 tents, according to the International Organisation for Migrants.

"We need at least $200m to $250m now," the UN's emergency co-ordinator, Jan Vandemoortele, said yesterday. "If we don't have that we will fail. Frankly, I don't know how to say this any more clearly in plain English: it's now or never. We will not have a second chance. At the very latest we need it today. Tomorrow will be too late for thousands and thousands of victims, especially babies and small children vulnerable to pneumonia, diarrhoea, malnutrition, etc."

At a donors' meeting in Geneva this week, countries pledged $580m for long-term reconstruction in payments that will only come through in the coming months. But they only came up with $16m in immediate funds. That "is not enough", a spokeswoman for the UN's humanitarian agency Unocha, Elizabeth Byrs, said yesterday. "We need money immediately to be able to reach people now, not in two to three months because people will be dead by then," she said.

In the quake-affected regions, winter is expected to set in within three weeks. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) yesterday warned that long-range forecasts were predicting an unusually harsh winter. Temperatures are predicted to be "well below normal", staying below freezing throughout the day from December to February, and as low as -20C at night in January.

"Snowfall is expected to considerably exceed the normal range, both in frequency and quantity," said WMO spokesman Mark Oliver. Normal snowfalls in the mountains are 6ft deep. Last winter, heavy snowfalls were 10ft deep.

The International Organisation for Migrants said yesterday it had temporarily abandoned efforts to get more tents in because the shortage was so severe, and was trying to get supplies to people to help them make basic repairs to their homes.

At least $50m is needed to keep the UN's helicopters flying beyond next week. The World Health Organisation warned that, without helicopters to evacuate the sick, infected wounds will kill victims. At least 24 people have already died from tetanus after their wounds were not treated in time. The World Food Programme said it had received 16 per cent of funding for its emergency appeal. "We need the money now to preposition the food stocks, before mountain roads are cut off, not in February," said its spokeswoman, Christiane Bethiaume.

International aid organisations have warned that the failure of the relief effort could prove to be as big a disaster as the earthquake itself.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there