Finnish Red Cross responds to the plight of Nepal

Carl Whetham / IFRC
Image: Carl Whetham / IFRC

Finnish Red Cross sent an emergency response unit, specialized in logistics, to Kathmandu airport, Nepal. This single international airport in the country is, and will be for the foreseeable future, a hub for incoming aid. There are only a couple of land routes into the country, and the roads are difficult to negotiate.

The Finnish Red Cross logistics unit is at the centre of the concerted Red Cross effort to bring in aid and professionals to support the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) to deliver the much needed help to the people in need.

By 11th of May, about 21,000 families in Nepal have received tarpaulins providing them temporary emergency shelter and 1,759 families had received tents. Nepal Red Cross Society has also distributed 11,370 blankets and 3,290 hygiene kits to families. The kits include items such as body soap and washing powder to last for a family for one month.

The Red Cross has also established one rapid deployment hospital and two basic health care units. Working closely with the Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal, the Red Cross has treated in total over 2600 patients and carried out 9 surgeries and 3 deliveries.

At the end of April people in Finland had donated almost half a million euros for the Nepal operation. Together with the Finnish Red Cross, Finland’s Nepalese community has been extremely active in organizing fundraising activities. Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs funds the Finnish Red Cross Nepal operation with 0.9 million euros.

In addition to the logistics ERU, Finnish Red Cross sent relief items, such as family tents and kitchen sets to Nepal, and contributed to the shared bursary paying for local and regional purchases of items most needed to relieve the plight of the affected people.

Experienced Finnish Red Cross aid workers hold key positions as part of the International Red Cross (IFRC) coordination of the operation. Head of IFRC Country Office in Nepal is Ms. Ritva Lahti. Ms. Tiina Saarikoski heads the concerted effort to solve health issues, and Mr. Marko Korhonen is in charge of the co-operation of the various Red Cross elements operating in Nepal as part of the joint response.

Finnish Red Cross delegates Minna Passi and Aapo Huhta were some of the firsts to visit the badly affected rural district of Sindhupalchowk. At the moment Finnish Red Cross has two communications delegates Nina Svahn and Mirva Helenius in Nepal. Local people's message to all helpers is clear: Please try to get to remote areas. Need for help there is huge.