Snowfall has reached 15-20 centimeters on flat steppe areas and 40-70 centimeters in mountainous areas. As of 25 January, the latest data to be released released, there have been 605,000 livestock deaths as a result of the dzud. That figure is thought to be an underestimation, because not all areas of the country can be reached due to the heavy snowfalls and ice. The total animal losses, including livestock who died during last summer's drought and those who fell victim to the previous winter's deep freeze, have reached more than 3 million and have brought severe hardship and poverty to herders, whose lives depend on livestock. Livestock raising accounts for 80 percent of the Mongolian economy, and 90 percent of the population are herdsmen.
This year's dzud is expected to continue in the Mongolian countryside until the end of May, bringing more misery. Additional snowfall is expected in February and March. Given the current situation, by the end of May livestock losses are projected to reach 6.6 million--or about 20 percent of the 33 million head of livestock in Mongolia.
On 30 January, the United Nations and the Mongolian government issued an appeal for international assistance for emergency relief in the devastated areas. In addition to "providing emergency relief to the most vulnerable groups in the most severely affected provinces," the appeal also focuses on "building the disaster management and coordination capacity of the Mongolian State Emergency Commission and other relevant national partners to enhance preparedness and future response," documents released by the United Nations indicated.
According to the UN assessment, it is expected that the continuing dzud will increase the current level of malnutrition and mortality, especially among children, mothers, and the elderly. International aid has so far comprised a $10 million donation provided by the Japanese government, $50,000 from both the Danish and Norwegian governments, and $50,000 dollars from the UN. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and some nongovernmental organizations have been contributing to the disaster relief efforts. The Mongolian government has been mobilizing its efforts in aid relief and coordination of domestic and international assistance.
Up to 12 people are reported to have died from exposure during searches for lost livestock in the driving blizzards. Numerous cases of frostbite injuries resulting in limb amputation have also been reported. Maternal and infant mortality have increased due to households being unable to access medical services. Governmental and international aid--primarily supplying citizens in the largely nomadic country with flour, rice, medications, pumps, and generators, and animals with hay and feed--cannot reach some of the remote areas that have been blocked and cut off by snow and ice.
More tragedy befell the country when, on 14 January, four members of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team, along with members of Mongolian governmental organizations and journalists perished when their helicopter crashed on the way to an assessment mission in the most severely affected northern part of Mongolia. Nine passengers of the total 23 on board were killed.
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