Donors pledge billions to help rebuild earthquake-hit Nepal

Photo: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Donor nations and agencies announced $4.4 billion in aid for Nepal on Thursday, covering about two-thirds of what the Himalayan nation says it needs to rebuild from devastating earthquakes that killed more than 8,800 people and made millions homeless.
The biggest donation came from the giant southern neighbor India, which pledged assistance of $1 billion during a one-day donors\’ conference in Kathmandu.
"Nepal and India are joined in both their joys and sorrows. Therefore, we need to closely coordinate our disaster response, and help each other in the wake of such calamities," Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.
India, which surrounds Nepal from three sides, was the first to respond to the April 25 earthquake in what was its largest disaster assistance effort abroad.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country would provide $483 million.
Asian Development Bank pledged $600 million and Japan said it would give $260 million. The United States said it would provide $130 million. World Bank had already announced $500 million for Nepal.
Nepal says it needs about $6.7 billion for reconstruction. About 875,000 public and private buildings were damaged, according to the National Emergency Response Center.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala urged delegates to "work with us, the government of Nepal" and vowed "zero tolerance toward corruption".
"I assure you that we will (leave) no stone unturned in ensuring that the support reaches the intended beneficiaries," he said as he opened the one-day meeting in Kathmandu.
The UN says some 2.8 million people still require humanitarian aid, including access to food, sanitation and medical care, with its initial $423 million emergency appeal only generating $153 million in funding, even as Kathmandu prepares to rebuild.
Nepal\’s Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said his country\’s trade deficit will widen following the earthquake, while foreign reserves remain adequate with transfers from the rest of the world increasing.
"It is now certain that the target for revenue collection in the current fiscal year will face a shortfall of 8 percent," he said. "This is the reason why we are looking to our development partners to fill a growing fiscal gap for the next three to five years."
The magnitude-7.8 earthquake was followed by a magnitude-7.3 quake on May 12, with both killing 8,841 people. About 875,000 private and government structures have been damaged, according to the government\’s National Emergency Response Center.
SOURCE: AP and agencies
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