Fund crunch likely to end UNHAS

KATHMANDU, August 10

United National Humanitarian Air Services on Monday issued a press release saying it needs $ 18 million to continue supporting the ongoing relief operation until the end of October 2015.

Till date, UNHAS received only $ 8.8 million (or 49 per cent) from donors, leaving a $ 9.2 million shortfall. If the gap is not met soon, deliveries will cease at the end of August, said UNHAS in its release.

Any potential interruption of UNHAS will leave at least 146,000 people in remote communities, who were devastated by the April 25 and May 12 earthquakes, without the support they require to survive through the monsoon and beyond, including emergency shelter and food and livelihood support.

“Because of great need in remote areas, exacerbated by monsoon delays, we currently have a significant backlog,” said Edmondo Perrone, Logistics Cluster Coordinator. “We have pending requests to move about 650 metric tonnes of emergency supplies, and new requests for the movement of cargo continue to pour in daily. About 35 organisations are waiting for airlifts, which shows how desperate the need is for this service right now.”

Till date 139 remote communities that are currently inaccessible by road have been served by UNHAS helicopters. UNHAS, the World Food Programme managed service, provides the entire  community involved in earthquake response with free airlift services, both cargo and passengers. It delivers supplies to remote communities on behalf of the government as well as more than 135 NGOs, UN agencies, donors, the diplomatic community and other humanitarian partners.

Since its establishment on April 29, and despite the adverse weather, UNHAS has moved more than 2,600 humanitarian workers and 1,457 metric tonnes of humanitarian supplies across the country.

In fact, its fleet has been utilised 30 percent more than was originally envisioned, as the need was much greater than anticipated, leading to depletion of funding reserves, according to the release.

The monsoon rains and the many landslides further limited or even cut off completely access to communities, making the airlift service more critical by the day. “Airlift support is crucial for the ongoing relief operation,” said Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal.

“Without it, humanitarian partners will not be able to continue providing vital assistance to communities in far-flung areas. UNHAS has proved essential to overcoming the many logistical challenges, now compounded by the monsoon, and will remain indispensable as we move into the weeks to come preparing these communities for their survival through the winter.”