UN appeals to all sides in Nepal to allow passage of food convoys
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Nepal has appealed to all parties in the south-eastern Terai region of the impoverished country to allow safe passage for food convoys, warning that transport strikes and violence have severely disrupted aid deliveries and threaten the health of hundreds of thousands of people, including children.
Over the last two months, WFP operations in Nepal have been hampered by weeks of strikes limiting the agency’s ability to replenish stocks at distribution warehouses that support food aid programmes to poor people. Security concerns in south-eastern areas, despite the signing of an historic peace agreement last year, have also forced WFP's implementation partners to suspend food for work programmes.
“I appeal to all parties, to ensure safe passage of WFP food convoys and the free and safe movement of WFP staff so we can continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Nepal,” said the agency’s Nepal Deputy Country Representative, Dominique Hyde. “Disruption of food deliveries and essential services due to repeated transport strikes will cause unnecessary suffering to those who already deal with significant hardship.”
He pointed out that during the years of insurgency, despite strikes and political instability, WFP was able to transport enough food aid to continue all of our programmes. “It is unfortunate that during this historic time of peace in Nepal, our humanitarian operations are being disrupted which prevents us from providing an adequate supply of food aid to needy beneficiaries.”
The strikes and violence have also limited the ability of WFP field monitors to report on the food security status of thousands of households whose crops have been affected by the drought in the region.
In Nepal, nearly 1.5 million people receive WFP food assistance to support their basic food needs. The agency’s programmes include supplemental nutritional support to 64,000 breastfeeding women and their young children, hot mid-day meals to 450,000 school going children, vegetable ghee rations for girls’ families, daily rations to over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, and supplemental rice rations through food-for-work programmes to over 800,000 people facing food shortages.
Also in Nepal, a 10-member team of Afghan experts – from the UN-backed Afghanistan’s New Beginnings Programme (ANBP) – have been supporting the peace deal reached last November between the Maoists and the Nepalese Government by helping train national experts and providing other assistance in monitoring weapons and former combatants involved in the 10-year bloody civil war.
Part of the team returned to Afghanistan on Monday and the remainder is expected to leave Nepal in the middle of next month. The ANBP is a project of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) that was created in April 2003 to assist the Afghan Government in implementing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR).
DDR was successfully completed in June 2006 and ANBP is now involved in two security related projects: the Anti Personnel Mines & Ammunition Stockpile Destruction Project and the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups.