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UN relief chief appeals for continued support to Nepal

UNITED NATIONS, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos on Friday appealed in Nepal to the international community for continued support to the millions of people affected by a strong earthquake on April 25, deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said at a daily news briefing here.

"Ms. Amos said that she is heartened and encouraged by the generosity and solidarity shown to date, but that she is also conscious of the urgent need to provide emergency shelter and basic goods and services to people affected as the monsoon season rapidly approaches," said Haq.

The European Union's Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, also visited Nepal and joined Amos in the appeal.

The UN and its partners launched a 415 million U.S. dollars flash appeal earlier this week. So far, more than 50 million U.S. dollars has been provided, and this amount includes bilateral support, funding for the flash appeal, and money released from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, said Haq.

Relief operations are underway. A plane chartered by the World Food Programme (WFP) carrying 50 tonnes of high-energy biscuits arrived in Kathmandu Thursday. WFP is also supporting logistics for the entire humanitarian community, and is using a hub at Kathmandu airport to help manage the flow of relief cargo arriving by air, said Haq.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners have mobilized resources, including medicine and medical equipment, to prevent the possible spread of diarrheal diseases.

According to the WHO, after an earthquake of this magnitude, the water supply is often damaged and contaminated, increasing the risk that people drinking it could develop diarrheal diseases. Crowded living conditions in temporary shelters also increase the chance that these types of diseases could spread.

Last week, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake - the country's biggest in 80 years - shook Nepal, killing more than 6,000 people and injuring more than 14,000 so far, while limiting access to food and leaving some 3.5 million people in need of food assistance.