UN calls for urgent aid for Nepal earthquake survivors

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly called Friday for urgent assistance to help Nepal earthquake survivors and to rebuild the impoverished Himalayan nation so it can better survive future disasters.

A resolution approved by the 193-member world body by consensus urged the international community to support the U.N. appeal for $423 million to meet essential needs over the next three months.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the assembly that just 14 percent of that appeal has been funded. "Let us resolve to do more and better," he said.

Rebuilding Nepal is expected to take years and will need sustained international support. The country's annual per capital income before the quake was just $712. Corruption was rife, and the country remains deeply divided along ethnic and political lines nearly a decade after a bloody Maoist insurgency ended with a 2006 peace accord.

The resolution stressed "the massive destruction" caused by the magnitude-7.8 quake that hit April 25, killing more than 8,200 people. That was followed by another magnitude-7.3 quake on Tuesday that killed 117 people and injured 2,800.

The U.N. says more than 8 million people have been affected.

Ban said it is urgent to get aid, including shelter, clean water and sanitation supplies, to all those in need before the monsoon season starts in June, which will increase the danger of cholera and other water-borne diseases.

"Heavy rain and hail are already affecting people living in tents," he said, adding that nearly 500,000 people need emergency shelter.

The monsoon season is also the planting season, and Ban warned that if farmers are unable to plant their fields, "next year's harvest will be severely affected."

The resolution stressed the need to restore historic, cultural and archaeological sites that were destroyed or damaged in the quakes. According to UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, three of the seven locations in the World Heritage site in the Kathmandu Valley have been severely damaged.

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