Violent clashes, unrest continue to impede the delivery of food, fuel, and other critical humanitarian supplies
UN, USG warn of a possible humanitarian crisis, call on parties to resolve border impasse
An estimated 81,000 earthquake-affected households require winterization support
For more than three months, violent clashes and political unrest along Nepal’s southern border with India have resulted in at least 50 deaths and impeded cross-border trade and transportation of essential supplies, including fuel, food, medicine, and other relief commodities. The border crisis and resulting shortages are compounding logistical challenges in reaching earthquake-affected populations, many of whom reside in remote, high-altitude areas and require urgent winterization support.
An estimated 81,000 earthquake-affected households—approximately 400,000 people— require assistance, including emergency relief supplies and shelter support, during the November–February winter season, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports.
HUMANITARIAN ACCESS AND LOGISTICS
Since late September, violent clashes and political unrest along the Nepal–India border have resulted in at least 50 deaths and impeded the procurement and delivery of food, fuel, and other critical humanitarian supplies for earthquake- affected populations. By October, the tensions—sparked by the September 20 adoption of Nepal’s new constitution, which critics argue underrepresents Nepal’s Madhesi and Tharu ethnic minorities—had resulted in a widespread fuel crisis, prompting Government of Nepal (GoN) authorities to introduce countrywide fuel rationing. In mid-October, OCHA reported a 70 percent shortage in Nepal’s monthly fuel requirement, with significant limitations for the Nepal earthquake response and recovery efforts.
In recent weeks, humanitarian partners—including the UN, U.S. Government (USG), and international aid organization representatives—have warned of a possible humanitarian crisis due to the critical supply shortages and called on parties to resolve the border impasse before the onset of severe winter weather, which will likely further hinder access to hard- to-reach communities. According to OCHA, an estimated 81,000 earthquake-affected households living in temporary shelters require shelter support and other relief commodities, including blankets, solar lamps, and winter clothes.
The UN World Food program (WFP) and the Logistics Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian logistics activities, comprising UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders—are working with the GoN to mitigate the impact of the fuel crisis on the earthquake response and recovery efforts. From October 21–November 15, the Logistics Cluster reported distributing more than 4,000 gallons of WFP-procured diesel to support the relief and winterization efforts of approximately 70 humanitarian organizations; this quantity of fuel is sufficient for one week of humanitarian operations, according to OCHA.
The governments of Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK recently provided more than $2.5 million to the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), extending its air services through December, according to a mid-November WFP press release. Between April 25 and November 5, UNHAS transported approximately 2,300 metric tons (MT) of humanitarian cargo and nearly 3,400 relief workers to hard-to-reach areas of Nepal.
To ensure the capacity of relief actors to rapidly respond to humanitarian needs during the winter season, USAID/OFDA is coordinating with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to establish an Emergency Response Cell at the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal. The Emergency Response Cell will be equipped with aircraft to support multi-sector monitoring and response capacity, prioritizing interventions for high- altitude communities. Since late April, USAID/OFDA has provided nearly $10.6 million to partners, including WFP, to enhance humanitarian logistics capacity and provide emergency relief items to address the needs of earthquake- affected households in Nepal.