AID: Besides the Nu 63 million (M) or USD 1M the Royal Government contributed to Nepal following the April earthquake, the Bhutanese public also raised a total of Nu 8.39 million for the relief effort in Nepal, according to a cabinet press release.

“As the losses of lives and number of casualties in Nepal kept mounting in the aftermath of the earthquake, the Royal Government of Bhutan was inundated with requests from Bhutanese citizens desiring to help with contributions in both cash and kind,” it is said in the press release.

Most of the donated money has been used by the government to cover the expenses it incurred for the relief operations.

Upon the command of His Majesty The King, Bhutan deployed a 78-member relief medical team to operate close to the epicentre of the 7.8 earthquake and in one of the hardest hit areas of Nepal. During its 22-day deployment there, the team treated almost 2,000 victims of the earthquake.

The government spent almost Nu 8M for the relief effort, with around Nu 2.6M being spent on medicine, Nu 3.3M on chartering aircraft, and the rest on food, field kits, and communications facilities, among others.

The remaining amount of around Nu 400,000 will be sent to Nepal at an appropriate time, it is pointed out in the press release.

The chairman of the Bhutan4Nepal committee, Kinzang Wangdi, said that it is yet to be decided to whom the remaining money will be handed over to. He added that the priority is that it should reach people at the grassroots. The Bhutan4Nepal committee was set up to coordinate the relief effort.

However, this marks the closing of the Bhutan4Nepal relief effort. Kinzang Wangdi said that with no more contributions coming in the committee will shortly close the account used for donations. “In principle, this is the end of the committee,” he said.

Kinzang Wangdi pointed out that Bhutan’s relief effort was exceptional in that it was commanded by His Majesty The King. He added that as a result, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the people of Bhutan, visited Nepal and personally handed over a cheque for USD 1M to the Nepalese government on April 27, two days after the earthquake.

He also pointed out that Bhutan’s medical relief team was one of the few that was self sufficient in terms of resources. As a result, the team did not require the assistance of the Nepalese government during a “difficult and confusing time”, he said.

He added that the Bhutanese public, in solidarity with the people of Nepal, had contributed generously in kind and cash. More than 10,000 cartons of mineral water were also donated by the public.

It was pointed out that the relief effort had shown that Bhutan and Nepal are “good neighbours”.

The list of donors can be accessed on the website of the cabinet secretariat.

Gyalsten K Dorji