Nepal thanks foreign aid; asks agencies to return now

Rajat Kain

Koirala_NepalThe government of Nepal has asked the rescue and aid agencies of 34 countries, including India, to leave the quake-hit country saying its own army and police is capable of handling the relief and rehabilitation work now.

These orders were issued after Nepal’s Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee (CNDRC) had on Sunday asked the government to ask foreign rescue teams to wind up their operations. The CNDRC is headed by Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal.

The order by the Nepal government has come amid the reports of Nepal administration being angry with the coverage of nation’s possibly biggest tragedy by the press contingents of the aiding nations. However, the government has denied any such reasons.

Claiming that the rescue operations are over, the Information Minister Minendra Rijal said, “The major rescue work in Kathmandu and surrounding areas is over and the remaining operations can be handled by local workers”.

Hundreds of foreign rescue workers have been engaged in Nepal with rescue, relief and rehab ever since the devastating earthquake shook the capital and large swath of areas across central Nepal. India has sent a largest contingent of rescue workers, followed by China. Indian government has sent 16 NDRF teams with 50 personnel each. Most of the rescue teams were carrying out operations in the worst affected districts of the Kathmandu Valley, Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha districts.

There is still a large amount of work remaining to be done in the villages and remote mountainous areas, especially outside the capital city of Kathmandu. The government has however, allowed the foreign aid volunteers to work in these areas for some time along with local police and army.

“Its more than eight days after the earthquake. The rescue teams have served their purpose and we are very thankful to them,” senior Home Ministry official Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said.

“The search and rescue teams have to be carried out for 7 days, when the survival chances are highest. The remaining search and rescue work will now be carried out by the Nepalese army and police,” the Home Ministry official further added.

As per the latest reports, the rescue teams of Japan, Turkey, Ukraine, UK and Netherlands has already begun the process of exiting the country. Currently, as the relief and medical requirements remain on the top of the government, the medical teams of few foreign countries are expected to be in Nepal for some more time.

“The Health ministry will allow only a few teams of health workers to work in the country on the basis of their expertise. Others will be asked to return home” confirmed an official.

The government has however, requested India to help them with the some difficult logistics and the removal of rubble at severely damaged sites.

“Relief teams are working in different teams, but topography and terrain of the nation is still acting as a major impediment in reaching out to the people. But foreign rescue team, the Indian and the American air forces are helping in reaching out to them,” Home Ministry official LP Dhakal said.

More than 7,200 people have been killed in Nepal with what is described as country’s biggest natural disaster.