WFP and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nepal will provide urgently needed humanitarian food aid and non-food items to 5,000 people displaced by communal violence across two districts in western Nepal.
We call upon all community leaders to end the unrest so that children can begin to recover from this tragic episode
Gillian Mellsop UNICEF Representative for Nepal
WFP has mobilised more than 70 metric tons of food aid following a request by the Government of Nepal to provide emergency humanitarian food assistance to the displaced populations gathering in Kapilbastu and Dang districts while UNICEF will provide tarpaulins, water purification equipment, cooking utensils, hygiene kits and mosquito nets.
“Working in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Nepal Red Cross Society, we are doing our best to rapidly respond to this humanitarian emergency, but the security situation remains tense. WFP food assistance should begin arriving within the next two days as long as the security situation does not worsen,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Country Representative in Nepal.
A reported 31 people have been killed, dozens injured or missing and thousands displaced after the death of a prominent local figure sparked days of communal violence in the western Terai region bordering India.
“UNICEF is extremely concerned about children caught up in this new cycle of violence. All schools in the area remain closed and in some instances schools have been razed to the ground depriving children of their fundamental right to education,” said Gillian Mellsop UNICEF Representative for Nepal.
Burning and looting
A curfew has been imposed in some areas to curb the violence which has resulted in the burning and looting of hundreds of houses, stores, vehicles and even schools. Displaced populations are currently living in public buildings, schools, army camps or in open spaces for lack of shelter.
“Even more worrying is that children have witnessed or been subjected to terrible acts of violence within their communities, some have been injured and others are reported missing or separated from their families. We call upon all community leaders to end the unrest so that children can begin to recover from this tragic episode,” said Mellsop.
Many of the people displaced because of violence and insecurity are from very poor and marginalised communities who have few resources available to cope with the loss of their houses and livelihoods.
“WFP has been able to mobilise only enough funds to provide emergency food aid for one month. At this point, it is uncertain what rehabilitation and reintegration support may be needed, but we remain ready to provide additional humanitarian relief if necessary,” said Ragan.
In addition to non food relief items, UNICEF and partners are working to restore educational systems, providing teaching and learning materials, and psycho-social care and support for traumatised children.
Despite UN calls for the Government to provide public security and appeals for calm and tolerance across the diverse communities in the region, some of the affected communities remain volatile.
The UN human rights office, OHCHR, continues investigations into the violence and monitoring work of the human rights situation.
It is expected that most of the displaced populations, some of whom have fled to India, will return to their homes when the situation calms down, except those whose houses have been completely destroyed.