The European Commission approved more financial support to assist Nepal on Monday (4 May), after the devastating earthquake that hit the country last week.
Following the joint EU-UN mission to Nepal, an additional €3 million in emergency aid was made available, doubling the amount of aid that will go towards the most urgent needs in the worst affected areas, including clean water, medicine, emergency shelter and telecommunications.
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, has just returned from Nepal, where he took stock of the needs and European efforts to help.
Speaking to the Brussels press, Stylianides said he had witnessed the magnitude of the destruction and of the support that will be needed to recover from such a devastating earthquake.
The official death toll announced yesterday was of 7,059 and the figure was likely to rise further, as an entire village was carried away by the same avalanche and scores more people – both locals and foreign trekkers – were missing, officials said.
“During the three days I spent in Nepal, I met families who lost everything. I talked with survivors. I saw children traumatised by this tragedy. On behalf of all Europeans, I expressed to them in the strongest terms that the people of Nepal are not alone, that European solidarity is strong and tangible”, he said.
Stylianides also said that he met with international and European relief teams and humanitarian workers, and discussed how Europe could continue its help in the most effective way possible.
Meanwhile, United Nations Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick said the government needed to loosen its normal customs restrictions, as criticism mounted over a pile-up of aid at Kathmandu airport, Nepal’s only international gateway.
Stylianides said that he has raised the issue of lengthy customs procedures with local authorities.
“I’m please to say that this issue has now been effectively addressed,” he said.
Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said that the EU was committed to assisting, from providing humanitarian aid, to rebuilding.
Mimica explained that for the recovery stage, additional assistance worth €16.6 million will be provided directly to the Government of Nepal and will be available later this week. Even more support would be mobilised in the future, he said.
This brings the total of the European Commission’s support since the earthquake struck to €22.6 million. This comes on top of bilateral assistance from EU member states.
EU development cooperation for Nepal until 2020 is valued at €306 million, mostly in agriculture and rural development assistance, in education and decentralisation, he said.
“Now our task is to assess what programmes, [what] concrete projects could be frontloaded, in order to have the most of these 306 million used for building schools, rebuilding rural roads, building some dams and water supply facilities,” Mimica stated.