Bend in the river

The governments of the US, the UK and New Zealand have issued travel alerts for their respective citizens warning them of the danger of visiting Nepal after the termination of the four-month long ceasefire by the Maoists. They have thus urged their nationals to “defer all non-essential visits” to Nepal, where, according to the notices, public demonstrations led by the seven-party alliance against the municipal polls scheduled for February 8 are on the rise and could take violent turns. A notice posted on the website of New Zealand’s foreign ministry said that those travelling or currently in Nepal should exercise “extreme caution, maintain high level of personal security awareness and avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.” Similarly, a reissued notice on the US State Department’s website too warned Americans in Nepal against travelling via road to places outside Kathmandu Valley, where, the notice stated, the situation “continues to be dangerous.” The UK Foreign and Common Wealth Office also advised British citizens to stay away from the kingdom which is experiencing “severe civil unrest and violence.”

This is not the first time when some Western nations have issued travel advisories warning of the danger of visiting Nepal. Though there have been no attacks on foreign nationals in Nepal’s 10-year-long bloody civil war, it is the risk foreigners want to avoid given the conflict situation. It is natural for foreign governments to be concerned about the welfare and safety of their citizens. It would be better if these countries kept in mind the fact that foreigners are not targeted in Nepal while issuing such alert notices. The end of the ceasefire has started having negative impact on tourism again after a four-month period of recovery, as the statistics show. Maoist violence on the one hand and frequent political protests and demonstrations in the capital and other towns in the country on the other do not provide good conditions for the growth of tourism.