Jimmy Carter's Nepal trip, Habitat project cancelled

KATHMANDU: Former US President Jimmy Carter has cancelled his Nepal trip, scheduled for November, as Habitat for Humanity International announced the cancellation of this year’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Chitwan, due to the ongoing unrest in Nepal in the wake of promulgation of new Constitution.

Earlier, Carter, who suffers from cancer, had announced that he would visit Nepal to take part in the project scheduled for November 1-6, notwithstanding his health conditions. The 90-year-old had received consent from his doctors also for the purported visit.

“While I am disappointed that we are unable to build in Nepal due to such uncertain circumstances, Rosalynn and I understand and support Habitat’s decision. We will keep the people of Nepal in our prayers and ask everyone to do the same,” said Carter. “We look forward to our ongoing work with Habitat and continuing to help shine the light on the need for affordable housing.”

Carter was the President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. After leaving White House, he became a champion of humanitarian causes and started taking part in election monitoring worldwide. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Habitat  said it has been closely monitoring the situation and new circumstances have proven to be safety risks for volunteers and staff. "Currently, many goods and materials coming into the country—including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and cooking fuel, as well as food and medical supplies—have been halted or slowed to a critical point, hindering Habitat’s capacity to effectively and safely execute the planned project," it said.

It further referred to  the notice issued by the US Embassy in Kathmandu that recommended travellers to evaluate any upcoming plans in Nepal, stating that due to the nationwide fuel shortage and blockages at the border, “many of the safety measures that would normally be relied on in an emergency situation may become unavailable.”

“I am saddened that we have had to cancel this year’s Carter Work Project,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International. “It’s the first time in 32 years that we have found ourselves in such a position. However, the severity of the shortages has proven to be insurmountable and given the circumstances, we would not be able to guarantee volunteer care and safety. Additionally, a large-scale event like this would only take away precious local resources already in short supply. This has been a difficult decision, but it is the responsible thing to do. We are grateful to our supporters and ask for their understanding and patience at this time.”

Habitat for Humanity expressed its  commitment to addressing adequate housing needs in the country, and said "Nepali families who were selected as partner homeowners for the project will still be served through local construction resources."

"Habitat has been fortunate to receive commitment from 1,500 volunteers from within Nepal and around the world for the 2015 Carter Work Project, and will work directly with them to address questions regarding the unforeseen cancellation of the build in Nepal."