India's aid to Nepal 'very welcome by the country': UNDP

United Nations: India's assistance to earthquake ravaged Nepal has been "very welcome by that country," according to a top UN Development Programme official.

"We have seen the Indian armed forces providing the first response," UNDP's Assistant Administrator, Magdy Martnez-Soliman, told reporters here on Tuesday describing India's contribution. "The airport upon arrival was literally occupied by Indian military aircraft, helicopters that had provided support to the Nepali Armed forces and were very welcome by the country."

Both "India and China are very present in the reconstruction effort," he added.

Martinez-Soliman, who returned after a visit to Nepal, sounded an alarm over the lack of international funding for the reconstruction efforts. With monsoon season fast approaching, he said the "slow response is worrying because we are working against the clock."

The UN has appealed for $175 million for recovery programmes over the next three years but only $10 million has come in so far, he said.

While visual media reports have focused on the quake havoc in the urban areas, "the devastation is predominantly rural" and the $175 million requested is for mostly reconstructing rural housing, he added.

For all the UN agencies' relief and reconstruction efforts, the UN has asked for a total contribution of $423 million.

More than 500,000 homes have been destroyed, along with many temples, places of worship and heritage sites, he said. The immediate focus is on providing shelter and rebuilding the homes as safe structures, he added. In addition, he said, roads in many areas also have to be reconstructed.

But overall, Nepal's larger infrastructure were spared major damage, he said. The airport was able to operate, the electricity grid and the cell phone system were still functioning and the dams were safe, he added.

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