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The United Church’s Response to the Earthquake in Nepal

The United Church is welcoming donations for Nepal Earthquake Relief in response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the south Asian country on April 24. The United Church has contributed $7,500 from its Emergency Response Fund to ACT Alliance to provide emergency aid in Kathmandu and surrounding areas. The Canadian government will match, dollar for dollar, donations to registered Canadian charities (including the United Church) made between April 25 and May 25. (See below for more information on matching funds.)

The earthquake has been called the most powerful quake to hit the region in 81 years. Over 4,000 people have been killed (with the death toll likely to rise), and many thousands more injured, mostly from collapsed buildings. Damage to property is extensive. The government of Nepal has declared a state of emergency and many nations, including nearby India and Pakistan, have mobilized quickly to provide generous amounts of emergency aid and other support.

Photo of damage from Nepalese earthquakeNepalese scramble to assess the earthquake damage in Kathmandu and remove rubble in search of survivors. Photo credit: United Nations Development Programme.

United Church partner, the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), expressed appreciation for the rapid response of several governments and aid agencies in rescue and relief operations. General Secretary-Elect Dr. Mathews George Chunakara made a special appeal to the global church: “We urge the ecumenical family to extend every possible support for humanitarian aid assistance in Nepal and other affected areas.”

Patti Talbot, the United Church’s Program Coordinator for Asia Partnerships, noted with concern the unfolding scale of this disaster: “Our response will support people and communities affected in the Kathmandu Valley, as well as in smaller and more remote towns and villages.”

ACT Alliance members on the ground in Nepal are working with government institutions, UN agencies, and non-governmental aid agencies to treat the injured and provide emergency relief. ACT is expected to issue an appeal for Nepal in the coming days once assessments have been completed to determine the kind of aid needed (likely mostly medium to long term) and how ACT and its members might best respond.

What You Can Do

Pray for the people of Nepal, tens of thousands of whose lives have been suddenly and violently shattered, their loved ones, homes and livelihoods lost. You may wish to use A Prayer for Nepal  [RTF: 1 p/36 KB].

Donate to provide much-needed support for humanitarian relief and rehabilitation. The United Church is welcoming donations for Nepal Earthquake Relief. Donations received will be shared with ACT Alliance.

Donate Now

Your donation to Nepal Earthquake Relief will be applied directly to support relief, rehabilitation, and restoration efforts in the country. Here’s how you can donate:

  • Online via our secure donation page.
  • Phone 416-231-5931 ext. 3050 or toll-free 1-800-268-3781 ext. 3050 and use your Visa or MasterCard.
  • Send a cheque, money order, or Visa or MasterCard information with donation amount to:
    • The United Church of Canada
      Philanthropy Unit—Emergency Response
      3250 Bloor Street West, Suite 300
      Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4

      Please be sure to note “Emergency Response—Nepal Earthquake Relief” on the face of your cheque.

Note: As part of the United Church’s Emergency Response Fund, 85 percent of your donation will go directly to Nepal Earthquake Relief, while 15 percent will be used to support emergencies that do not receive intense media coverage and response. No administration fees will be deducted from your donation. Regular donations to the Mission and Service Fund enable the United Church to provide staffing and administration for emergency response work.

Canadian Government Matching Donations

For every eligible dollar donated by individual Canadians to registered Canadian charities in response to the impact of the earthquake in Nepal, the Government of Canada will set aside one dollar for their Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. The government will use this fund to provide assistance through international and Canadian humanitarian organizations.

Registered charities, including the United Church, will be eligible to apply for this fund to augment relief projects in Nepal (there is no guarantee that any project or charity will receive contributions from the government’s matching fund).

To be eligible for matching, donations need to be received at the United Church’s General Council Office no later than May 25, 2015.

Background

Originating outside Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, the earthquake has destroyed much of the city, including its historic section. Tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan, and deaths have been reported in Nepal (by far the worst hit) as well as India, Bangladesh, and China. It is expected that many remote villages perched on mountainsides in the Himalayas were destroyed. In addition to the loss of life, the quake caused numerous buildings to collapse and left enormous cracks and craters in roads.

Aftershocks continued for two days, terrifying Nepalese and leading many to sleep in the streets by night. By day, many dug for survivors in the devastation wrought a day earlier. According to a CBC online report , “Acrid, white smoke rose above the nation’s most revered Hindu temple, where dozens of bodies were being cremated at any given time.”

The Canadian government announced on April 26 that it is immediately donating $5 million for relief efforts, as well as sending disaster experts to Nepal to assess the situation. The Canadian military’s full Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) will stand by in the area so it can step in if needed, according to a statement  by Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson.

The quake occurred at the boundary between two pieces, or plates, of the Earth’s crust, one of which supports India to the south and the other Eurasia to the north. The Indian plate is moving at 45 mm a year under the Eurasian plate. Over millions of years, earthquakes have led to the uplift of the Himalayas. Nepal suffered its worst recorded earthquake in 1934—a quake that measured 8.0 in magnitude and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan.

ThumbnailLearn  what United Church partner ACT Alliance is doing in Nepal

For further information, contact:

Patti Talbot
Program Coordinator, Partnerships in Asia and the Pacific
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 4018
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 4018
E-mail: Patti Talbot

Gary Kenny
Program Coordinator, Emergency Response and International Development
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 4051
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 4051
E-mail: Gary Kenny

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