MAF initially believed that MAF’s most strategic involvement would be in helping authorities and relief agencies with logistics at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu including ramp management and planning, cargo handling, warehousing logistics and coordination.
However, in the last few days MAF has become involved in facilitating urgent helicopter flights enabling medical and search and rescue teams to quickly reach remote and isolated areas.
Emergency flight service
As a result of longstanding relationships within Nepal, MAF has secured the use of two Airbus AS350 helicopters operated by a helicopter company. On Friday 1 May MAF received a request from the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) to use the helicopters to rescue eight British tourists who were stranded at a remote monastery at Serang Gompa, Bihi near Lho. The tourists were rescued on Saturday 2 May.
Four further flights on behalf of DFID to fly UK search-and-rescue teams took place over the weekend. On Tuesday 5 May MAF flew a British surgical team who will be stationed for two days at remote villages to carry out life-saving operations. Due to the effectiveness of the work over the past weekend and the clear and urgent need for a co-ordinated light helicopter response facility for NGOs to use to transport humanitarian aid workers, DFID have asked MAF to set up and run a co-ordinated helicopter facility. Fundraising appeals to raise these funds are underway.
Improving aid flow
In addition to the helicopter flight facilitation over the weekend, MAF staff have been working on logistics at Tribhuvan International Airport including training others involved in the response on the DFID-donated cargo loading equipment. Using this equipment means improved flow of aid cargo with quicker delivery to aid agencies and earlier distribution to those who need urgent help. Faster cargo extraction from aircraft to transit areas free up slots at the airport for more landings per day.
In addition to using this equipment to assist smaller NGOs and the UN World Food Programme, MAF will train national Nepali staff to use the equipment in order to build capacity for continued safe and effective cargo handling.
Health crisis looms
A lack of shelter, contaminated water and poor sanitation could lead to cholera, dysentery and other water-borne diseases.
MAF believes urgent action is needed to tackle this potential health crisis before the rainy season starts in June.
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