Friday, March 13, 2009

The displaced people of Nepal

It has been a few years since the "People's War" has finished in Nepal. The war caused over 50,000 Nepalese to flee from their homes. The war finished in 2006, but many of the displaced people still haven't returned home.

The government of Nepal has been slow in developing a program to help the people without homes. The Non-Governmental Organizations who help the displaced people say their government has totally neglected them.

From the IRIN we learn about the situation from interviews with NGO's that operate in Nepal.

In a mid-2008 IDP report produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of IDPs in Nepal was estimated to be 50,000-70,000, and UN officials say these numbers will not have changed since then.

“There is virtually nothing for them to return to. They have no house or other resources to generate income,” said Geeta Gautam, an official from the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), a local human rights NGO.

The Nepal Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, which is responsible for the welfare of the IDPs, is still in the process of setting up poverty alleviation, health care and employment programmes, but has been unable to make much progress due to a lack of reliable data, officials said.

Activists and experts working on the IDP issue are concerned about the growing vulnerability of women and children - the worst victims of displacement-induced poverty.

“Children’s education has been severely hampered and the women have great difficulty supporting their families,” explained Gautam.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said there was an urgent need for national IDP policy to be implemented: IDPs should be able to return to their former villages, and get reintegrated and resettled. NRC country director Phillipe Clerc said he was concerned by the apparent lack of government interest in the matter.

Even two years after the launch of the national IDP policy, a large number of women are still seeking information on civil documentation, widows’ allowances, property restitution, children's education and shelter, said Clerc.

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