Last week Nepal was hit with a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake which destroyed much of its capital.
As rescue teams continue to try and dig out survivors, the Nepalese government has finally announced that they have given up hope of finding more survivors in the rubble.
“We are trying our best in rescue and relief work but now I don’t think that there is any possibility of survivors,” Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told AFP.
That news comes on the heels of an ever-increasing death toll which, at the moment, is approaching 7,500. Thousands more are wounded, the number rapidly approaching 15,000 people.
Unfortunately, Nepal is thoroughly unprepared for such a catastrophe. Prior to the earthquake, Nepal was already in poor shape, with a meager $2,400 GDP per capita and nearly 25 percent of the population below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day.
The government wasn’t any better, as it was riddled with corruption and nepotism.
To make matters worse, tourism made up a large portion of the Nepalese economy.
The country attracted both wealthy foreigners looking to explore the mountains and ancient temples of Nepal and religious travelers from neighboring countries looking for spiritual satisfaction and the many religious sites in the country.
The earthquake has decimated that sector of the economy, resulting in nearly 60 foreign deaths, the closure of the Mt. Everest base camp, and the destruction of several religiously and historically significant monuments.
The Kathmandu Valley, located almost atop the epicenter, was designated as a world heritage site.
It includes seven monument areas which contained ancient Buddhist temple complexes and statues, as well as several courts of ancient noble families.
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN’s cultural organisation, UNESCO, said there had been “extensive and irreversible damage” at these highly historical locations.
Of course, these cultural losses, as tragic as they are, can’t compare to the massive loss of life and property.
According to the UN, 8.1 million people were effected in some way by the quake, more than a quarter of the country’s small population.
Additionally, upwards of 130,000 homes were destroyed, resulting in a desperate need for temporary shelter and food.
The Nepalese government has pleaded with foreign donors to send more tents and tarpaulins so that the hundreds of thousands of displaced victims have a place to stay.
Compounding the issue further is the lack of knowledge about the remote towns in the affected region.
Hundreds of small villages are scattered through the mountains, connected by obscure and unmapped mountain roads, or not connected at all.
The multitude of landslides that followed the initial earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks have buried a large, but worryingly unknown, amount of them.
The standard method for rescuing locations are helicopters, however, they are in short supply. The effort to locate and flag these villages has been led by volunteers who hike the uncharted paths that twist through the mountains.
As more and more of these villages are uncovered, the outlook seems worse, and more aid is desperately needed.
Unfortunately, the bloated bureaucracy of the country’s government has been a highly limiting factor in delivering aid to the country.
Bureaucrats and customs officials have maintained that standard customs inspections have to be made, even in the face of an emergency.
This insistence on performing these extensive bureaucratic procedures has drastically slowed the flow of aid and supplies entering Nepal.
“The bottleneck was the fact that the bureaucratic procedures were just so heavy,” says Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations resident coordinator, in response to the pile up of emergency supplies in warehouses and airports.
The Nepalese government has agreed to loosen the red tape, but as of yet aid supplies are still piling up.
Additionally, the sole runway in Nepal capable of handling the massive cargo planes bringing the aid was closed on Sunday due to damage.
This has only made a poor situation worse; many areas in Nepal haven’t seen any aid or humanitarian workers at all.
Nevertheless, the UN and the Nepalese government have both indicated that the aid operations are becoming more efficient.
Soon, the backup should be resolved and recovery work can begin.
If you want to help with the rescue and recovery efforts, there are a number of charitable organizations already on the ground in Nepal.
Some of the major organizations include the Red Cross, Save the Children, Oxfam, and UNICEF.