Amid Fuel Shortages in Nepal, Food Aid is Delivered by Mule (Video)

This is a pretty amazing video from the World Food Program showing an operation to open a mountain pass so that a convoy of mules can reach stranded communities in Nepal. It is a good reminder of just how logistically complex the relief operation are today, six months after the earthquake.

Compounding the complexity of the Nepal relief operation is a widespread fuel shortage throughout the country. The shortage is owing to a constitutional crisis in Nepal and a dispute with neighboring India. In short, India contends that a new Nepalese constitution does not grant sufficient rights to a minority group with which it has ties. Since then, fuel shipments to Nepal from India have dwindled, sparking a major shortage throughout the country.

This dispute is having a deleterious effect on relief operations, particularly in places like the Larke Pass, featured in the video.

“Our distribution to 224,000 people has practically ground to a halt,” said Iolanda Jaquemet, a spokeswoman for the country’s main humanitarian provider, the World Food Programme.

“You have more than 84,000 people in the affected areas that live high in the mountains,” she said. “This is a particularly critical time to reach them to provide them with food and shelter supplies, before the snow sets in.”

Jaquemet estimated that these people would be cut off from the world in about three to four weeks, and said WFP was therefore prioritising its diesel reserves to target transport to these areas.

There does seem to be some progress on the diplomatic front between Nepal and India. But unless this dispute is resolved soon, the people of Nepal are going to be in for a long, cold winter. And without fuel to deliver supplies, there will be very little the international community can do to ease their suffering.