April 27, 2015 / 5:43 PM / in 3 years

Aid groups, celebrities seek funds for Nepal quake; experts urge caution

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Governments, aid agencies and celebrities on Monday intensified a push for funding to help survivors of a deadly earthquake in Nepal as the risks posed by a lack of food, water and shelter escalated hourly.

More than 3,700 people were killed and at least 6,500 injured when the 7.9 magnitude quake rocked Nepal on Saturday, toppling houses and triggering avalanches in the Himalayas.

The Nepali government has appealed for foreign assistance with the aftermath of the worst earthquake to hit the South Asian country since 1934 when 8,500 died.

“Heart in #Nepal today. Met wonderful people there 4 wks go. I‘m giving to Oxfam, pls join me,” tweeted Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

As aid experts took to Twitter to urge well-wishers to donate cash to reputable relief groups rather than rushing in unwanted goods or help, funding pledges mounted.

According to the U.N. Financial Tracking Service, $5.7 million in funds had been received so far with Britain the biggest donor, followed by the United States and Japan.

The Asian Development Bank said on Monday it was providing a $3 million grant for tents, medical assistance, food and drinking water. It also announced up to $200 million for recovery efforts.

The World Health Organization, which warned that hospitals in the capital Kathmandu were overwhelmed by the number of casualties from collapsed buildings, said it had released $175,000 in funds and appealed for $5 million.

Doctors were reportedly treating survivors on the streets, the WHO said.

Britain, which deployed medics and search and rescue teams to Nepal at the weekend, announced a $7.5 million package.

The Disasters Emergency Committee, an alliance of 13 leading UK charities launched an appeal for money, following appeals by Christian Aid, Handicap International and Internews among other aid organizations.

In a separate announcement, Facebook said its users would have an option to donate to International Medical Corps via a message at the top of the news feed.

It said it would match every dollar donated up to $2 million, and that the funds would be distributed to local relief and rescue organizations.

‘WAYS TO NOT HELP’

As the scale of the disaster emerged over the weekend, aid workers and other experts urged the public to heed lessons learned after other major disasters such as Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

“Ways to NOT help #NepalEarthquake: Give to new charities that suddenly pop up (often scams), collect stuff to send, try to go yourself,” Laura Seay, Colby College political scientist, tweeted.

“After the Haiti earthquake, donations from well-meaning Americans took up space on the tarmac, preventing needed supplies from getting thru,” she said.

An aid worker who tweets using the handle @morealtitude urged the public not to volunteer to help in Nepal.

“In the midst of a crisis, offers of volunteers or of folks ‘just wanting to help’- however well-meaning- just adds to the noise,” he tweeted. “ ... what’s needed at this time is folks with proven experience and/or pertinent professional skills.”

Editing by Ros Russell

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