Israel biedt royaal hulp aan Nepal na de verwoestende aardbeving van afgelopen week en de vele naschokken. In de krant (Volkskrant) las ik dat India de meeste hulp heeft gezonden, wat me plausibel lijkt gezien de nabijheid en grootte van het land, met China op de tweede plaats. Israel werd in het geheel niet genoemd. Dat lijkt, gezien de omvang van de hulp, niet helemaal fair. Hoe dan ook gaat het niet om wie het beste is maar hoe de mensen daar zo goed mogelijk geholpen kunnen worden.
Het is een mooie traditie dat bij natuurrampen altijd royaal en onbaatzuchtig wordt geholpen, soms zelfs door landen die normaal gesproken niet bepaald elkaars vrienden zijn. Israel heeft in het verleden o.a. hulp aangeboden aan Iran en Turkije en, niet te vergeten, ook de Palestijnen waarvan jaarlijks vele duizenden patienten in Israelische ziekenhuizen worden behandeld.
Israel’s aid team to Nepal larger than any other country’s
Field hospital begins work; nearly 2,000 Israelis evacuated since Saturday; just one Israeli remains unaccounted for
Israeli soldiers establish a field hospital together with Nepalese army, in Nepal, following the deadly earthquake. on April 29, 2015. (Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Israel’s aid team to the earthquake-battered Himalayan nation of Nepal is the largest in manpower of any international aid mission.
Over 250 doctors and rescue personnel were part of an IDF delegation that landed Tuesday in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, in the wake of Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake that devastated large swaths of the mountainous country, killing at least 5,000 and leaving some 8,000 wounded and tens of thousands seeking shelter and food.
The Israeli group set up a field hospital with 60 beds that began operations on Wednesday in coordination with the local army hospital.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and the Nepalese Army’s chief of staff visited the field hospital to attend its opening ceremony.
Dozens of Israeli backpackers are stranded in far-flung areas of the country, especially in the Gosainkunda lakes area. The Foreign Ministry says only one Israeli, Or Asraf, remains unaccounted for of the 2,000 who were in the country when the quake hit Saturday. A report Wednesday afternoon on Channel 2 suggested that Asraf was seen alive and well an hour after the quake, but the information was second-hand and not confirmed. Israeli rescue teams hope to finish locating and extracting the last of the stranded backpackers by the end of the day Wednesday.
Asraf was moderately wounded fighting with the IDF in last summer’s Gaza war. After recovering from his injuries and completing his army service, he went backpacking in Nepal, a popular destination for post-army Israelis, and was slated to return to Israel in July.
Israel’s aid convoy to the quake-stricken nation is the largest ever sent by the IDF overseas. Israel has deployed field hospitals to Haiti, the Philippines and Japan in recent years following natural disasters.
According to figures reported by CNN, Israel’s total official aid delegation, not counting several private aid groups, numbers 260 people, more than all the other aid efforts examined by CNN combined. The next-largest delegation, from the United Kingdom, numbers 68 people, followed by China’s 62, the US’s 54 and South Korea’s 40. Taiwan sent 20 personnel, Italy 15 and France 11.
In aid money, Israel performs rather less well. Leading the pack with funds intended to provide for emergency supplies and help sustain local rescue efforts came the United States with $10 million, followed by the UK with $5 million, Canada with $4.1m, Australia and Norway with $3.9 million each and the EU with $3.25m. Israel did not send money.
Israel also leads in its efforts to rescue its stranded countrymen.
Some 2,000 Israelis were in Nepal when the quake struck Saturday. The vast majority have been rescued, with the remaining number estimated in the dozens and just one Israeli unaccounted for. Four planes were sent to airlift Israelis out, along with helicopters and jeeps rented for the effort, while a combination of IDF, insurance company-sponsored rescue teams and various volunteer groups helped reach nearly all the Israelis stranded in remote parts of the mountainous country.
Efforts to take ‘several months'; providing emergency aid is ‘the most effective kind of diplomacy,’ Liberman says
Israel has committed itself to fully rebuilding a village in Nepal that was destroyed by the earthquake that ravaged the country Saturday, Foreign Minister Liberman announced Thursday.
The efforts will start soon and likely take extend several months after Israel evacuates the field hospital it is currently operating in Kathmandu, he said.
“After consulting with various departments in the Foreign Ministry, we decided to adopt a village in Nepal, to assist with its reconstruction and to do our utmost to help people who have really found themselves in a difficult situation,” Liberman told reporters in the ministry’s situation room.
The work Israel plans to execute on the yet undetermined village will include clearing away the debris, building infrastructure and houses, and making sure residents have access to drinking water, he said.
“We, the professional staff, will start to work after the dust has settled and it’ll be possible to talk with Nepali authorities about the location of the village and the matter of the reconstruction,” the Foreign Ministry’s director-general, Nissim Ben Shitrit, said.
“Adopting” a village in catastrophe-ridden areas in not new for Jerusalem, he said. “We did this in Turkey: The State of Israel built an entire village, including buildings and everything that was needed.”
Both Liberman and Ben Shitrit hailed Israel’s efforts to provide Nepalis with emergency aid as helpful to Israel’s image.
“This is Israel’s other face, which is sometimes forgotten and needs to be strengthened,” Ben Shitrit said.
Indeed, helping others in their time of need is not only a moral imperative but also “the most effective kind of diplomacy,” the foreign minister stated. “In crafting a country’s image, nothing is more effective than providing aid.”
Member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development are expected to spend a certain percentage of their GDPs on foreign aid, and Israel’s spending is far lower than the OECD standard, Liberman acknowledged.
“Like all advanced countries, it’s our duty to help others who suffer from natural disaster. We always came to help, whether it was in Haiti, Japan or Turkey,” he said.
Nepal is a very friendly country, both on the bilateral and multilateral level, he added. “If it is in our power to help, it is our duty to help.”
Liberman also expressed pride in the assistance Israel has been providing to its citizens who were in Nepal during the quake. “I looked at all the countries, at the greatest powers in the world, that had more tourists [In Nepal] than Israel — I can say with pride and certainty that no country gave even a quarter of the assistance that Israel gave to its citizens that were stuck in very complicated circumstances. The State of Israel took care of everyone.”
The Foreign Ministry was unwilling to discuss the price tag of Israel’s efforts in Nepal, saying that the operation is ongoing and therefore its cost still unknown.
“When the problem arose and a plane needed to be booked, we didn’t immediately know the cost and who would pick up the tab. I said, ‘It doesn’t matter. Go find a plane and send it on its way.’ The cost doesn’t matter. The last thing we dealt with is costs,” Liberman said.
He also dismissed criticism that said insurance companies, not the state, should be reposnsible for locating and evacuating citizens in distress abroad.
“The State of Israel always talks about solidarity and mutual assistance — Jewish people are responsible for one another,” he said. “Whenever a Jew runs into trouble, it doesn’t matter if we need to go to the other end of the world, we will always go and help.”