Kathmandu, December 4:

A three-week media campaign aiming to raise awareness on the right of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return home kicked off today.

The campaign has been initiated by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner for Refugees.

The campaign aims to raise awareness on IDPs’ right to return home among local communities, IDPs themselves and the policy makers, said Keiran Dwyer, spokesperson for the OHCHR-Nepal.

A one-minute visual “sport” will be aired on two TV channels for two weeks starting from today while a two-minute “radio sport” will be broadcasted for 21 days in six languages on Radio Nepal and 40 FM stations across the country from December 5.

The campaign aims to drive the message home that people from all walks of life have been displaced and they all have a right to return home in a safe and dignified manner.

The OHCHR, OCHA and UNHCR today called for the formation of a new and comprehensive policy in line with the international standards recognising that Nepalis have been internally displaced by both sides to the conflict.

“There is a pressing need for implementation (of the policy) and this means that district and village-level authorities must be given clear operational instructions and sufficient resources to assist those who wish to return,” said Dwyer, reading out the joint statement.

Likewise, the statement reminded both the government and the Maoists that by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, both the parties have committed themselves to ensuring that displaced persons can return to their homes if they wish to. “We call on both sides to fulfil their commitment by creating the conditions for such returns to take place, particularly as they prepare to form a new interim government and prepare for elections to a CA in June 2007,” said the statement.

“The commitments made in the CPA mean that there must be an end to all activities that obstruct the right of the displaced to voluntarily return home safely and with dignity,” the statement said.

In a bid to ensure sustainable return home, IDPs must be allowed to claim “restitution” or compensation for lost land, housing and other property.

It urged the government and Maoists to fulfil their commitments and work together to end the displacement of thousands of Nepalis.

However, none of the organisations’ representatives could give the exact figures of IDPs.