A high-level United Nations team will travel to Nepal next week to discuss proposed UN assistance for the peace process, after Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that recent developments have provided an “unprecedented opportunity” to achieve a negotiated solution to the 10 years of conflict in the Himalayan kingdom.
“Through consultations with all concerned, the mission will seek a common understanding of the nature and scope of responsibilities the United Nations could undertake in the peace process,” Mr. Annan said in a statement read out by his spokesman.
The assessment team will be led by Staffan De Mistura, who until recently was the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Iraq. The team is scheduled to be in Nepal between 26 July and 3 August.
In April, King Gyanendra reinstated Parliament following mass demonstrations across the country and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) – which has been waging an armed rebellion for the past decade – declared a three-month ceasefire, both moves that were praised by Mr. Annan.
Also in Nepal, a senior UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) official today called on refugees from Bhutan to be patient, saying there was now increased hope that their 15 years in exile could be coming to an end.
“Please have faith in us. We are doing everything we can to bring your plight to the attention of the international community,” UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Judy Cheng-Hopkins told leaders of more than 18,000 refugees in a camp in the east of Nepal.
Almost 107,000 people of Nepali ethnic origin fled from Bhutan in the early 1990s and now live in seven refugee camps in Nepal. UNHCR said that years of negotiations between the two countries have so far produced few results on their ultimate fate.