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Canadian stranded in Nepal says Ottawa not doing enough to bring citizens home

Members of India’s Second Battalion National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) stand in a queue as they leave for Kathmandu to assist in the search and rescue operation, at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose international airport in Kolkata, India, Monday, April 27, 2015.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Bikas Das
April 27, 2015 - 9:37 AM

A Montreal woman trying to get home from earthquake-hit Nepal says Ottawa isn't doing enough to help expats and travellers stranded in the stricken country.

Emilie-Anne Leroux says that while other countries have pulled out all the stops to get their citizens home, she and other Canadians she knows haven't received so much as a phone call from officials despite having registered as being in Nepal.

Leroux, who is in Nepal working for the International Organization for Migration, says that's left some people feeling neglected and "very panicky."

"I feel like they haven't reached out any type of support or help," Leroux said from the UN House in Kathmandu, where she and a handful of other Canadians have been staying and helping to co-ordinate aid efforts.

"It's just frustrating — compared to the Australian embassy, who have booked hotels, picked up people at their apartments, helped them get their (stuff) out and fly them home if they want to, I think the Canadian government is showing a very poor example of how much it cares for its citizens who choose to work abroad for development."

The 28-year-old was trying to get back to Canada to be with her father, who is having heart surgery, when the earthquake hit.

She says the airline could only rebook her on a flight Wednesday and she can't afford an earlier, pricier ticket.

Saturday's magnitude-7.8 earthquake, centred outside the capital city Kathmandu, was the worst to hit the South Asian nation of 31 million in more than 80 years and has left more than 3,900 dead.

The Foreign Affairs Department said there are 462 Canadians registered as being in Nepal, but cautioned that's only an estimate because registration is voluntary.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs said the government's Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa and Canadian offices abroad are working with local authorities and providing consular assistance to Canadian citizens.

Francois Lasalle said that to date, the department has deployed six additional people to the affected region and officials continue to try to reach Canadians believed to be in the area.

The Canadian government is sending a disaster assessment team to Nepal and is contributing $5 million to relief efforts, Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson's office said on the weekend.

The assessment team was part of the Disaster Assistance Response Team, known as DART. The military team is designed to deploy on short notice to deal with natural disasters or humanitarian emergencies.

The Ontario government also announced Monday it will contribute $1 million to the Red Cross's relief efforts in Nepal. Members of legislature also held a moment of silence to honour victims of the deadly disaster.

Some Canadians are still anxiously awaiting news of relatives they hope survived the devastating quake.

Faye Kennedy's family says they're worried the Ottawa resident — an experienced hiker who was trekking in Langtang National Park — may soon run out of food.

"We hope to hear from her soon and that more resources have been dedicated to those trapped in rural areas of Nepal," they said in a statement.

"We're encouraged that the government of Canada has pledged funds and DART assistance, and hope more can be done in the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years ahead."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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