Up to 3,600 people have been killed and more than 6,500 injured in Nepal, according to figures released by the United Nations . Several regions have been cut off and the number of victims continues to rise. Handicap International expects to see significant numbers of spinal cord injuries and multiple fractures among the injured people arriving at hospitals. It is paramount that the wounded are taken care of immediately to reduce the risk of long-term disabilities.
Handicap International’s Nepal country director, Sarah Blin, was in the country when the earthquake struck: “The morning of the earthquake, people panicked and ran to open spaces. The earth was still shaking. The first day, a lot of the dead in the hospital where we work were children and older people”.
“Handicap International has built up a lot of expertise in meeting the specific needs of vulnerable people, like disabled and older people - anyone who struggles to access to aid distributions under these sorts of circumstances. This is our main focus in an emergency. We are providing medical care and assistive devices like orthoses and wheelchairs to injured people. We’re also focusing our immediate response on logistics - organising tents, preparing transport for equipment, food, etc.”
“It’s a major disaster. Lots of people have been injured, whole villages destroyed, roads cut off, and there’s a serious shortage of vehicles to transport the injured to local hospitals,” explains Blin.
“Isolated rural areas have been particularly badly hit by the earthquake. The countryside is sparsely populated - it’s difficult to get in touch with people. It complicates the aid effort too. For now, we don’t have a complete picture of what’s going in these areas.”
Handicap International has been working in Nepal since 1999. The organisation runs rehabilitation services and helps reduce the impact of natural disasters on the poorest and most vulnerable individuals. Blin says, “When the earthquake struck, we were able to respond to people’s needs immediately, using our stocks of emergency equipment. But there are not enough supplies here to meet everyone’s needs. The needs are so great - it’s vital people support our aid effort.”
Interviews available upon request with Handicap International staff in Nepal and UK Director Aleema Shivji, an emergency specialist.
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an international aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Working alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations in over 60 countries worldwide, we take action and raise awareness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.