Aid agencies publish BOGs

Kathmandu, October 15:

Aid agencies active in Nepal today published their 14-point Basic Operating Guidelines (BOGs) for the second time in four years.

The UN, bilateral donors and INGOs agreed and signed a single set of Guidelines this time. The BOGs were signed by development agencies for the first time in 2003 seeking continuation of the agencies’ impartial work during the conflict period. The BOGs make clear the operating principles including freedom to operate without hindrance.

Violations are monitored by the signatories and their partners. These include: UN, EU, DANIDA, SDC, Canadian International Development Agency, Norwegian Embassy, DFID, Aus AID, Embassy of Finland, JICA, GTZ, SNV, and the Association of International Non-governmental Organisations of Nepal (AIN).

Addressing a press meet organised in the capital today, Bella Bird, Chief of DFID, said, “We feel the BOGs are still relevant given the political uncertainty and the rise in the number of unwanted incidents faced by development workers since July this year in Nepal.” She said that the usefulness of BOGs lies in the fact that they have ‘represented the neutrality’ of the agencies and have ‘protected the workers.’

BOGs were also used in the past to secure the release of some development workers abducted by the Maoists. Bird also cited a recent example in Dhading district when a certain

party pressurised the development workers to provide them vehicles for party campaigning.

The representatives of the agencies called for ‘freedom to operate everywhere’ in Nepal. They expressed commitment to continue their support to Nepal in the development efforts, but said that safety of their staff is the foremost concern. “We express our commitment to operate in all areas of Nepal in a transparent and inclusive manner, said Gillian Mellsop, Acting UN Resident Representative/Humanitarian Coordinator. “We urge all actors in Nepal to comply strictly with international humanitarian principles and rights laws and allow full access to our workers.”

The representatives also said that parties have committed to assist in the development programmes. AIN president Dr Sibesh Regmi said, “We are determined to focus on development activities, which include work in diverse groups, and we hope we will get positive help from the parties’ side.”

Projects suspended in six Tarai districts

KATHMANDU: The aid agencies have suspended development projects mainly in the troubled Tarai region since July this year. Because of the rise in violence and pressure on development workers, projects have been suspended mainly from Sunsari, Morang, Dhanusa, Siraha, Rautahat, and Sarlahi districts.

According to lastest update of Office for the coordination of Humanitarian affairs OCHA on September 27, there has been a gradual reduction in the number of reports of violations of the BOGs by the Maoists. “However, there has been an increase in reported violations by Madhesi groups” in the Tarai. “Some staff members have been called back and we are withdrawing as per the condition in Tarai,” AIN president Sibesh C Regmi said. The DFID of the UK is set to spend $90 million this year on its development projects. The UN is formulating the UN Development Assistance Fram-ework in line with the Three-Year Interim Plan. “There are challenges, but we are focused on the development agenda,” Mellsop said. — HNS