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'The difficulty we face here is that everyone is in need'

Even with their own losses from Nepal's devastating earthquake, Red Cross staff and volunteers are working ceaselessly to help their neighbours cope.

"The difficulty we face here is that everyone is in need," said Dev Ratna Dhakwa, Secretary General of Nepal Red Cross Society.

"Every day we have had crowds coming to the office asking for tarpaulins. It's a supply and demand problem, we simply cannot help everyone. Hopefully when the aftershocks subside many people will be able to return to their homes.

"Thousands of people have no homes to return to, and will need to be moved into tents."

The sheer scale of the disaster, and Nepal's mountainous terrain, make it difficult to immediately reach everyone who needs help. Blocked roads must be cleared by hand and supplies must be carried up narrow mountain paths on foot. Existing stocks of relief supplies are being exhausted and planes with more goods are on their way.

In Kathmandu itself, everyday life remains hard. Many shops remain closed and supplies of dried food staples such as rice are running low. The water supply is erratic and there is no electricity in many areas.

Nepal Red Cross was active since the first hours of the quake and more than 1,500 volunteers are now part of the relief effort. They are providing first aid and emotional support, distributing relief supplies, carrying out disaster assessments and working at evacuation centres.

Many of them are sleeping outdoors as well. Red Cross staff members Bijay Dahal is looking after his elderly father and a son with a disability, while trying to help his neighbours.

"The water tank in our house is empty and our food supplies are running out," he said. "My son is distressed at having to sleep outdoors in the cold every night under plastic sheeting. We can't take much more of this but everyone's in the same situation."

Original story by Patrick Fuller, IFRC.