Nepal i 2005 - Konflikten vokser og presset på lokalbefolkningen øges
NEPAL: The Year in Review 2005 - Conflict grinds on
IRINnews.org, 9. januar 2006
Gennemgang af udviklingen i Nepal i 2005, med vægt på udviklings- og sikkerhedsmæssige aspekter af udviklingen og de konsekvenser det har haft og fortsat har for den lokale befolkning, ikke mindst i Nepal landområder og provinsbyer
KATHMANDU, 9 Jan 2006 (IRIN/PLUSNEWS) - The year in Nepal was marked by continued conflict and political deadlock with significant human costs. Political and human rights observers said that it proved to be one of the worst years in the country’s history after the constitutional monarch, King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, assumed direct rule and took over executive powers on 1 February.
The king sacked Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, dismissed his government and declared a state of emergency. According to analysts, the king’s step has pushed the country back to the non-democratic, non-party and pre-democracy era of the Panchayat system by forming a council of ministers made up of royalists.
The king said the move was aimed at crushing Maoist rebels who have been waging an armed campaign against the state since 1996. Before February 2005, around 11,500 Nepalis had already been killed over nine years of conflict. Between the start of direct rule in February and the end of the year, the number of conflict-related deaths, including rebels, security personnel and civilians, was over 1,300.
The February clampdown meant all civil liberties were suspended and press freedom was curtailed. Private FM radio stations were prevented from airing news, newspapers were prohibited from publishing news deemed to be anti-state or reporting anything about the Maoist insurgency, while hundreds of journalists were threatened, with many arrested throughout the year.
The international media freedom watchdog Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) said that Nepal topped their global censorship list. Its 2005 annual report revealed that there were over 1,000 cases of censorship in just one year. Since 1 February, “the media has been receiving a battering which is getting harsher,” it said. A new media ordinance was introduced in October to further undermine the free press.
The suspension of civil liberties and failure to restore democratic government provoked an angry response from the international community. Nepal’s main arms suppliers and military supporters – the Indian and British governments - suspended military aid. Switzerland and Denmark suspended bilateral aid but humanitarian assistance programmes remained intact.
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) cancelled US $2.3 million worth of support for Nepal’s police, prison services and the prime minister’s office. As Nepal’s largest donor, DFID did not increase its aid as planned for 2005. Foreign aid finances about a quarter of Nepal’s budget of around $1.4 billion, with 60 percent spent on development work.
Concerned with the serious impact of the conflict, aid agencies made a humanitarian appeal for Nepal for the first time through the UN’s Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for $63 million.
In March, key donors, including the United Nations and the European Union (EU), cautioned that the country was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
“The brutality of both the Maoists and the government security forces, as well as the collapse of economic and social structures in villages, is forcing larger numbers of more vulnerable people to flee,” said a report by Refugees International (RI), an international group for the protection of displaced people.
A report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council said that significant population displacements had taken place in 2005.
The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported widespread rights abuses by both state authorities and Maoist rebels. It reported receiving information about Maoist involvement in abductions, extortions, forced recruitment, bombing of civilian buildings and recruitment of children.
OHCHR, which established its Nepal office in May due to increasing cases of human rights abuses, also reported that the authorities were involved in extrajudicial executions, killings of civilians, disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, threats and failure to protect civilians.
The country also witnessed the dramatic death of 35 passengers in June after the rebels bombed a bus because it was allegedly carrying some soldiers. The incident took place in Chitwan, 120 km southeast of the capital, Kathmandu.
Nepal’s development sector has remained heavily stunted in 2005, with rural development projects, health infrastructure and education hit worst.
Education remained the most affected sector due to the conflict. The government’s national ‘Welcome to School’ campaign to enrol all children in school, failed in rural areas where a large number of children have no schooling. Education experts said that the government workers were hesitant to take the campaign to the villages due to fear of the Maoists.
The Year Ahead
When the Maoists announced a unilateral ceasefire in September, many hoped that peace was on the way. For the first time, the leaders of Nepal’s seven main political parties and the rebels reached an understanding to work towards peace and democracy.
The development and aid community were also looking forward to implementing more of their projects when the rebels announced for the first time to respect the Basic Operating Guidelines (BOGs) of the UN and development agencies.
The local human rights organisation, Insec, and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reported that the killings and human rights abuse at the hands of Maoists had reduced during the ceasefire.
But the truce ended after four months with the Maoists justifying their return to violence by saying that the government had failed to reciprocate.
Local human rights activists fear that the level of violence, civilian insecurity and human rights abuses will escalate beyond control in 2006. There are expectations of more violence, especially as municipal elections scheduled for February approach.
“It is a tragedy for the people of Nepal that full-scale armed conflict may now resume. But there need not and must not be the same gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights standards that have been perpetrated during previous phases of the conflict,” Louise Arbour, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, said early in January 2006 as the truce ended.
Donor agencies were not optimistic about the future. “In a conflict situation, it is indeed very difficult to bring sustainable development to the people of Nepal and to the remote areas,” said DFID’s Asia-Pacific director, Charlotte Seymour-Smith. “It’s difficult for donor agencies to provide support for basic services and to work with the government to extend the reach and quality of these services,” she added.
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