I saw Nepal’s agony, says UK aid worker

First published Monday 1 June 2015 in The Argus

An aid worker has told of the trauma in earthquake-struck Nepal after returning home from the devastated country.

Richard Miller was scrambled to Nepal with the Action Aid charity hours after the 7.8-magnitute quake on April 25.

More than 8,000 people have so far died in the disaster and geologists say the quake and its aftershocks triggered more than 3,000 landslides.

Mr Miller, humanitarian director at Action Aid, said: “The worst-hit areas by far are the mountain villages which have been affected by the landslides. They are the hardest to reach too.
“The houses there are built of rock and mud plaster so everything has just collapsed. It’s been chaotic, but we’ve managed to reach 70,000 people with basic food supplies.

“On a human level people are very traumatised. You see it in their eyes.

“We visited one area on the outskirts of Katmandu with supplies and the headteacher of a school thanked us then broke down in tears.

She said that three children in her school had died and she hoped nobody else went through what they had experienced.”

Mr Miller said victims’ emotional trauma sparked a wave of women going into premature labour as chaos erupted around them.

Action Aid donated £50,000 to a hospital to help support the influx of women giving birth. He said: “We helped with the basic needs of food and supplies, but then we found there were lots of women so traumatised at what happened they were giving birth in tents – and needed immediate care.

“Whilst that’s going on there are people digging out their relatives, friends and neighbours from the rubble and you’re anticipating aftershocks too. Monsoon season is coming next month so we need to sort shelter for people.

“It’s a really intense time and you are working 16 to 18 hour days.

“But you get a fantastic sense of fulfilment because you see the impact of what you are doing.

“I’m used to it now too. My first response was in Ethiopia in the mid 80s – but my focus now is going back to Nepal in July to help with the recovery.”

Click here to donate to Action Aid and support its work in Nepal.


• 18 climbers died at Everest base camp in an avalanche l The UN estimates that eight million people were affected and 2.8 million Nepalese were displaced.

• More than 3.5 million people are estimated to be in need of food assistance, the UN said.

• UNICEF estimates that 1.7 million children live in the worst-hit areas.