Monday, April 18, 2005

UN seeks action on Nepal refugees

Copy of April 18, 2005 report by Charles Haviland, BBC News, Kathmandu.

Maoists -  UN seeks action on Nepal refugees
BBC Photo: Maoist rebels have been fighting the government since 1996.

A senior United Nations official visiting Nepal has called for pre-emptive action to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the country.

Dennis McNamara says the kingdom is a source of major concern over the plight of its internally displaced people.

He wants to push the country up the UN agenda, mentioning it in the same breath as Sudan, Colombia or Somalia.

He spoke as more details emerged of the apparent killing of 10 villagers by Maoist rebels.

Mr McNamara, who advises the UN's humanitarian affairs chief, specialises in internally displaced people, or IDPs, driven from their homes by conflict.

He says there are between 100,000 and 200,000 IDPs in Nepal - hundreds of thousands more are refugees who have crossed the open border into India.

They are not in camps, but millions are affected, he says.

He adds that concerned governments and humanitarian agencies must mobilise to protect them now, while the Nepalese authorities must help the IDPs.

In southern Nepal, the state's conflict with Maoist rebels is spiralling into a vicious cycle of revenge, uprooting ever more people.

Nepalese human rights groups have been visiting a village where Maoists reportedly dragged nine men and a 14-year-old boy from their houses and shot them late on Friday.

Local accounts said the 10 had nothing to do with anti-Maoist vigilante groups, as the rebels had alleged.

The conflict in this region pits Maoists who have long brutalised villagers against vigilantes, whom the government has been openly encouraging - mob violence met with more of the same, and innocent victims on both sides.


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