Nepal: UN completes first stage of Maoist registration; envoy stresses dialogue
The United Nations mission in Nepal, sent over to assist with last year’s landmark peace deal, recently completed the first stage of registering Maoist arms and fighters, the UN envoy to the Himalayan country said today, as he stressed the importance of dialogue and expressed “grave concern” that some Maoists had left their cantonment sites.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative, Ian Martin, who heads the UN Political Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), said this first stage of registration was completed at the Maoist army cantonment sites last Saturday, although he added this was not the end of the process and arrangements had been made for it to continue today.
The total number of Maoist army combatants registered at the seven main cantonment sites, including those from the associated satellite cantonment sites, is over 30,850, Mr. Martin said, and more than 3,420 weapons have been registered.
“In recent days, some registered Maoist army combatants have left or threatened to leave cantonment sites, and their commanders have stated that this is in order to secure work and lodging,” he said. “Although weapons storage and perimeter security arrangements at the cantonments have remained in place, this development is of grave concern.”
Mr. Martin said such action was a “clear breach” of the Agreement on Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies, adding that UNMIN had expressed its concern about conditions at the cantonment sites and urged both the Government and the Maoists to cooperate over urgent measures to improve conditions.
He said any peace process was likely to have “ups and downs” and acknowledged the challenges still facing Nepal, but stressed that negotiation involving all sectors of society was key, and added that the UN would do its best to provide any and all assistance.
“It is essential that the parties to the process fulfil their commitments at every stage; it is also essential that all Nepalese people are able to participate in this process, and that they do so through peaceful means,” he said. “Dialogue and inclusion are essential tools to achieve a successful peace process, in which differences can be peacefully worked through to reach agreements.”
The Council established UNMIN late last month to assist with the follow-up to the landmark Nepalese peace deal, reached in November between the Government and the Maoists, and also to support this year’s planned elections in the impoverished country where 10 years of civil war killed around 15,000 people and displaced over 100,000 others.
In a separate development in Nepal, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern today over clashes between refugees and locals outside Sanischare camp in Morang district, which left one refugee dead and eight wounded – five seriously.
There are some 106,000 refugees from Bhutan who have been living in seven camps in eastern Nepal since the early 1990s. Frustration has been growing amongst the refugees as they have seen no solution to their situation over the last 16 years. A substantial offer of resettlement places by the United States as well as other countries was made last year but has yet to take place.
“Disputes between locals and refugees over gathering firewood in the forest are not uncommon,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva. “We are very concerned that a refugee has been killed and others wounded and are seeking further details on what sparked this incident. We hope this situation will be resolved with understanding on all sides.”