Nepal | July 08, 2020

Editorial: Distressing picture

Himalayan News Service
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The feedback received from various quarters could help the government to improve matters if it really cared

The plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nepal is still miserable. One would have thought that after the government had agreed with the Maoists to the voluntary return of its IDPs to their homes with safety and dignity some headway would be made but this agreement was not implemented to the full. Furthermore, after the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015 and several strong quakes after that thousands of people were displaced particularly in the 14 most affected districts. The country report on Human Rights Practices brought out by the Department of State of the United States for 2015 shows a distressing picture of the IDPs in Nepal. Delays in setting up of the National Reconstruction Authority added to the woes of the earthquake victims as the government was unable to develop a comprehensive earthquake plan on such matters as policies regarding reconstruction and relocation. This has cost the country dear.

Figures with the International Organization for Migration since August shows that a staggering number of 59,481 IDPs were being hosted by various 104 active sites. In the 13 districts mostly affected, 49 per cent were men, 51 per cent women and 8,376 children aged below five years. They suffered due to the lack of toilets, adverse weather conditions without proper shelters and no access to adequate food and drinking water. Women suffered more as there was an absence of privacy and adequate security and places to bathe and change. The pregnant women and those in their period faced additional difficulties not to talk about safe toilets. These disasters also exacerbated the trafficking of women and children. Even though the government had allowed the UN and NGOs to provide relief to IDPs, the efforts suffered from several shortcomings. Discrimination was seen in providing aid with supporters and members of political parties and those with clout getting more than their share of relief. The reports state the location was another factor and more aid was provided to those who were closer to shelter entrances.

Amnesty International claims that some groups suffered discrimination and they targeted women-headed households, Dalits, indigenous people and also the physically and mentally challenged. They encountered harassment while trying to get the urgently needed relief. However, the government planned to move IDPs living in unsafe locations to safer ones with their consent. The IDPs had no other option than to shelter in private owned land and also public and official public sites. Later, after a couple of months of the major quakes the government issued eviction notices to those staying at these sites impromptu. After the earthquakes lessened, many IDPs left the camps to build temporary shelters near the houses which had been damaged by the earthquakes. The feedback received from various quarters could help the government to improve matters if it really cared.

Endangered vultures

For the past few years, vultures have been reported to be an endangered species in Nepal. There were times, several decades ago, in Nepal when vulture population was sizable. Then open spaces and forests abounded and the harmful chemicals could not transfer to the dead animals they fed on. Nowadays, from time to time, dead vultures are sighted and the number of vultures crowding on the carcasses is thinning.Their population in some parts of the country is rarer than in others. Now, the vultures roaming the skies of Jajarkot district are also reported to have been pushed to the verge of extinction. The main reason is cited to be the veterinary drug, diclofenac, which is widely used to treat livestock. It looks strange that though the production, import and use of diclofenac are banned in Nepal, the drug seems to be freely used, particularly in rural areas. Though the low level of public awareness in this respect may be one reason for this wide use of the banned drug, poor monitoring and poor enforcement of law are the main culprits. Deforestation and wildfires have also played their parts in destroying the habitat of vultures in Nepal. Though the government has a Vulture Conservation Action Plan for Nepal in force, its execution shows much room for improvement.


A version of this article appears in print on April 18, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.


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