UN rushes aid to 5,000 Nepalese uprooted by communal violence
United Nations agencies today announced an emergency aid programme to feed and provide other relief for 5,000 people displaced by communal violence across two districts in western Nepal.
Some 30 people are reported to have been killed and dozens more injured or missing after the death of a prominent local figure sparked days of communal violence in the Terai region bordering India. Hundreds of houses, stores, vehicles and schools have been burned or looted, and some of the victims have fled to India.
“We are doing our best to rapidly respond to this humanitarian emergency, but the security situation remains tense,” UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country
Representative Richard Ragan said of his agency’s plan to distribute more than 70 metric tons of food at the request of the Government. “WFP food assistance should begin arriving within the next two days as long as the security situation does not worsen.”
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is to provide tarpaulins, water purification equipment, cooking utensils, hygiene kits and mosquito nets.
“UNICEF is extremely concerned about children caught up in this new cycle of violence,” UNICEF Country Representative Gillian Mellsop said. “All schools in the area remain closed and in some instances schools have been razed to the ground depriving children of their fundamental right to education.”
A curfew has been imposed in some areas to curb the violence and displaced people are living in public buildings, schools, army camps or in open spaces for lack of shelter.
“Even more worrying is that children have witnessed or been subjected to terrible acts of violence within their communities, some have been injured and others are reported missing or separated from their families,” Ms. Mellsop said. “We call upon all community leaders to end the unrest so that children can begin to recover from this tragic episode.”
Many of those displaced are from very poor and marginalized communities who have few resources available to cope with the loss of their houses and livelihoods.
“WFP has been able to mobilize only enough funds to provide emergency food aid for one month,” Mr. Ragan said. “At this point, it is uncertain what rehabilitation and reintegration support may be needed, but we remain ready to provide additional humanitarian relief if necessary.”
In addition to non-food relief items, UNICEF and its partners are working to restore educational systems, providing teaching, learning materials and psycho-social care for traumatized children.
Despite UN calls for the Government to provide public security and appeals for calm and tolerance across the diverse communities in the region, some areas remain volatile. The UN human rights office continues to investigate the violence and monitor the situation.