On Saturday, April 25, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, leaving an enormous human tragedy in its wake. Latest numbers suggest over 4,000 people have been killed, thousands are injured and tens of thousands are homeless. According to the United Nations, the death toll is likely to rise to the tens of thousands in Nepal, India and China. Federations have already swung into action and are collecting funds for emergency relief efforts (click here to contribute).
Approximately 2,000 Israelis were in Nepal at the night of the earthquake and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that at least 50 of them are still “out of contact,” their fate unknown at this stage. Hundreds of Israelis spent the night in the courtyard of the Israeli embassy and in the Chabad House in Kathmandu, awaiting evacuation aboard El Al jets.
Due to impassable roads and landslides, rescue teams are struggling to reach those in need. Nepal’s poor road network and the limited number of helicopters also are hampering rescue efforts and the distribution of aid. Needs are expected to rise dramatically as reliable supplies of food, water and medical supplies are depleted. Continued aftershocks spread fear and uncertainty. Kathmandu airport is struggling to efficiently manage the influx of aid flights. It's at times like this, that our shared commitment to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, finds its deepest expression. This is what we're doing in the field:
There are a number of Jewish organizations on the ground in Nepal:
JDC, our trusted partner, is actively assessing the situation and working to provide support where it is needed most. Here is what they are doing:
- Partnering with the IDF field hospital that departed for Nepal this morning (April 27) by providing medical equipment including two neonatal incubators.
- Supporting the Magen David Adom medical team that departed yesterday morning to serve with the Nepalese Red Cross.
- Securing emergency medical supplies for transfer to Nepal.
- Working with UNICEF to provide emergency supplies for children responding to needs in shelter, nutrition and water and sanitation.
- Deploying a rapid assessment team is scheduled to arrive in Nepal on Wednesday. The team is composed of JDC emergency management experts including an Indian national.
- Activating the JDC network to identify active local, Asian and international organizations responding in Nepal.
- Coordinating with the Israeli Embassy, U.S. State Department and Israeli and Jewish organizations as well as the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
- Setting up the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Response, which is managed by JDC. (April 26).
- Partnering with Tevel B'tzedek, an Israeli NGO that has been on the ground in Nepal for over eight years, to provide immediate emergency relief in the area of shelter and other urgent needs.
Israel sent an Israel Defense Forces delegation to conduct search and rescue operations. It has also established a fully functioning field hospital including operating rooms, X-ray equipment and pediatric care.
- Following landing delays at the Kathmandu airport, an IDF C-130J aircraft departed Israel Monday morning (April 27) carrying 90 rescue personnel and equipment.
- An El Al 747 aircraft and a second IDF transport plane left Monday afternoon (Israel time) to Kathmandu with some additional 170 rescue and medical staff and 90 tons of medical supplies including a mobile field hospital – a total of five Israeli planes will land today bringing much needed supplies and trained personnel to assist with the rescue efforts
- Approximately 50 Israelis are still considered “out of contact.” Many Israelis are trapped in the mountains along the hiking routes. Israeli government is working to extract them, an effort complicated by the fact that all helicopters have been nationalized.
- On Sunday (April 26) evening, three premature babies born to surrogate mothers for Israeli couples, along with their parents and an injured Israeli man, arrived in Israel aboard an IDF plane. Approximately 200 Israelis are making their way to the airport in Kathmandu this evening local time in anticipation of being airlifted home by aircraft which flew supplies into the region.
Chabad of Nepal has been a staple for Jewish travelers looking to connect with Judaism. It is also participating in relief efforts on the ground in Nepal.
- Chabad continues to remain an anchor-point for Israeli and Jewish travelers
- Magen David Adom established a first-aid station at the Chabad House in Kathmandu
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims of this tragedy.