UNHCR rushes plastic sheeting and solar-powered lamps to Nepal earthquake survivors

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UNHCR staff collect plastic sheeting from a warehouse before it is distributed to people in eastern Nepal affected by the devastating earthquake. © UNHCR/D.R.Uprety

GENEVA, April 27 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency is sending thousands of plastic sheets and solar-powered lamps to people left homeless and without light by the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Saturday's quake, recorded at 7.8 on the open-ended Richter scale, killed at least 3,600 people and left thousands more injured, according to latest estimates and media reports. Numbers are expected to rise. Many lost their homes and are living in the open or in tent settlements.

UNHCR is today responding to a government call for help by sending 11,000 plastic sheets and 4,000 solar-powered lanterns from its warehouse in Damak, eastern Nepal, to the eastern hilly districts of Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga and Sindhuli.

Later Monday afternoon, an additional 8,000 plastic sheets and 4,000 solar lamps are being flown to Kathmandu from Dubai on a cargo flight provided free of charge by Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The plastic sheets will be used to construct or repair shelters and the lamps will provide light at night.

"We are deeply saddened that thousands of people have been killed, injured or displaced in the disaster. These numbers are still rising with frequent aftershocks and as search-and-rescue teams reach remote areas," said Daisy Dell, director of UNHCR's Asia-Pacific bureau. "UNHCR stands in solidarity with Nepal, which has been a generous host to thousands of refugees over the years," she added.

UNHCR has been working with the Nepali government since the early 1960s to care for refugees from the region and beyond. There are currently more than 21,000 refugees originating from Bhutan in two camps in eastern Nepal, and some 650 refugees and asylum-seekers in and around Kathmandu.