Nepal quake: Customs red tape delays disaster aid

Baku, May 4, AZERTAC

The UN’s humanitarian boss has said she is “extremely concerned” that Nepal’s customs authorities are slowing the delivery of earthquake aid, as the death toll from the disaster crossed 7,000 yesterday.

After the government ruled out finding more survivors of the April 25 quake buried in the ruins of the capital, Kathmandu, the focus was shifting to delivering aid to families and others in far-flung areas of the devastated nation.

However, UN Undersecretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said she was worried the foreign aid pouring into Nepal was being held up by red tape.

“I was extremely concerned to hear reports that customs was taking such a long time,” Amos said in Kathmandu on Saturday, saying she had asked Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to speed up customs clearance for aid materials.

“He has undertaken to ensure that happens, so I hope that from now we will see an improvement in those administrative issues,” Amos said.

Planes loaded with relief supplies from around the world were pouring into Nepal, but there have been numerous reports of many getting stuck at Kathmandu’s small Tribhuvan International Airport, and even customs officials stopping trucks filled with aid from crossing into the country from neighboring India.

UN coordinator for Nepal Jamie McGoldrick yesterday said the bottlenecks in aid delivery were slowly disappearing.

“I think the problem is there, but it’s actually diminishing,” he said, adding the Nepalese government eased customs and other bureaucratic hurdles on humanitarian aid following complaints from the UN.

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