Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Prime Minister Børge Brende met with Norwegian humanitarian organizations on Tuesday afternoon and promised to contribute another NOK 100 million in state funding to help finance aid to earthquake victims in Nepal. The aid comes on top of the NOK 30 million initially earmarked on Saturday, just after the devastating earthquake hit.
Solberg said there was “extensive need for help, both in the short and the long term,” and that it was still extremely demanding to meet the needs. Most pressing, according to Brende, were search and rescue assistance, along with deliveries of medicine, clean water and food. The latest figures on Tuesday confirmed more than 5,000 dead and more than 8,000 injured, and there were fears the death toll could double.
No full overview yet
“The aid efforts are underway, even though it hasn’t been possible to get a full overview of the situation many places,” Solberg said. “It’s important for the authorities in Nepal, along with the UN, to be able to lead the work. At the same time, we know that much of the immediate needs for help are being addressed by local residents and small organizations who are responding to needs in their immediate area.”
Some aid, including a Norwegian crew with search and rescue dogs, was diverted because there was no capacity to receive incoming flights at the airport in Kathmandu. Conditions there remained chaotic, and there also were reports of emergency shipments of food and water that failed to get through to those needing it.
“Our job first and foremost is to contribute to the international emergency aid groups that are functioning,” Brende said. “Nepal and the UN must be in the driver’s seat. Those trying to help must have knowledge of Nepal and set their priorities in line with victims’ needs.”
Praised ‘quick reaction’
Brende praised Norwegian aid groups for their “quick reaction” to the crisis and their “huge commitment” to help those in need. At least a million children are in need of acute assistance, according to the UNICEF, also to try to return to some sense of normalcy as quickly as possible. Solberg and Brende, who once led the Norwegian Red Cross and has first-hand experience in handling aid efforts, noted that access to school, a safe place to be and social activity is extremely important for children in crisis.
Part of the Norwegian financial aid will be earmarked for the protection and education of children. The Norwegian government is also cooperating with the UN’s emergency fund CERF and the International Red Cross Federation’s emergency fund.