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Nepal’s Operation Mountain Express

Nepal’s Operation Mountain Express

A team of elite mountain climbers is helping the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reach earthquake survivors in some of Nepal’s toughest mountain terrain, where helicopters and trucks can’t go.

As part of WFP’s Operation Mountain Express, the mountaineers abandoned plans to climb one of the Himalaya peaks and instead have undertaken a relief mission by using their skills and training to help get food and other supplies to people in need.

Vital Team Effort

The team is completely self-sufficient, carrying their own food, equipment and medical supplies. They’re hiking in mountainous terrain from village to village assessing needs and then relaying these details via satellite phone back to WFP’s operations team.

This vital information link means WFP can dispatch food and other critically-needed relief items such as shelter to the right place in the right amount. WFP also gets a clear picture of the obstacles to overcome, such as landslides, in order to make sure the relief items can reach the village.

This week, the climbers are working in the Gorkha district which reaches up into the Himalayas and which was the epicentre of the 25 April quake. Their skills mean they can act as eyes and ears in remote, and often potentially dangerous areas, that are otherwise cut-off by landslides or sheer height.

One of the team’s member is Canadian professional high altitude climber Don Bowie. “We are so proud that gains are being made, and progress is growing day by day. We truly hope we are able to keep this up, and able to gain access into all villages of the Gorkha district before monsoon season begins,” he wrote this week on his expedition blog.

“This is Where I Need to Be”

Also part of the team is Nuri, a Sherpa who was part of the original summit expedition and who stayed on to take part in the relief effort even though his own village, Solukhumbu, is among those devastated by the earthquake. He acts as an interpreter between the villagers and the mountaineers.

“We have asked him numerous times if he would like to go home and he repeatedly insists that he is needed where we are,” Bowie writes. “He speaks to his family every day. They are doing well and taken care of. We are overwhelmed by his hard work and humble spirit”.

As Operation Mountain Express continues, WFP is also using trucks, tractors and helicopters to bring food, shelter and other emergencyneeds to earthquake survivors in 11 badly-affected districts beyond Kathmandu Valley. So far WFP has provided food for more than 1.4 million earthquake survivors.

WFP is in urgent need of funds to continue to help the people of Nepal. To make a donation, visit www.wfp.org/nepal

Read more about what Don Bowie’s team is doing for Nepal: NepalRelief

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