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Nepal: ICRC activities in 2006

31-12-2006 Operational Update

In Nepal's transition from conflict to peace, the ICRC is focussing on helping people suffering from the consequences of years of strife. It is also encouraging the authorities to ratify IHL treaties and ensure their full implementation into domestic law.

 

Protection activities 
 
© ICRC / Jon Bjorgvinsson / np-e-00101 
 
The exchange of Red Cross messages was vital during the conflict; the focus now is on tracing the missing.  
    Since May 2006, the priority has been the problem of the missing. During the year, the ICRC continued to collect information on people who disappeared during the conflict and re-visited most of the families who had reported the disappearance of relatives, with the aim of obtaining further information.

Through this process, and thanks to appeals in the media, it learned of new cases from families who had not previously reported a missing relative. It submitted the names of people being sought to the authorities and the CPN-M (Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist) and reminded them of their obligation to provide information on the fate and whereabouts of the missing. Some replies were received, allowing the ICRC to inform the families on the fate of their relatives.

During the year, 621 cases were solved; however, by mid-December the ICRC was still searching for 765 people, including 30 who were minors at the time of their disappearance. and 87 women.

During the transition period, the number of serious violations against the civilian population diminished. The ICRC's main concern is the recruitment of children by the CPN-M. In particular, it is following closely the cases of 31 children; it has traced their parents and is assessing the security situation before bringing the children home. In the meantime, they are being cared for at a children's home in Kathmandu.

By year's end, detention activities were at a very low level; almost everyone detained by the security forces in relation to the conflict had been released, with the exception of those convicted under common law charges; these have been visited by the ICRC as in the past. Visits have also been made to people detained by the CPN-M under various charges.

During 2006, ICRC delegates visited 221 government detention places (jails, police stations and army camps). More than 300 visits were carried out, during which 1,009 detainees were seen. The delegates also visited 31detainees in 14 places under the control of the CPN-M.

With the help of Nepal Red Cross volunteers, 1,283 RCM were exchanged, including 477 from and to people detained, allowing relatives to keep in contact. Here also, the number of RCM has been decreasing since April, due to the massive release of people detained.

 The risk from explosive debris  

With the purpose of preventing injuries caused by explosive debris left over form the conflict, the ICRC is providing financial and technical support to the Nepal Red Cross Society to conduct an education programme in 20 conflict-affected districts. Forty junior and youth Red Cross members have been trained to raise awareness of the problem – and how to avoid it – among adults and children.

 
Assistance activities 
 

 Medical  

The ICRC's medical activities aim to ensure the treatment of victims of the conflict, through strategically located medical facilities. It has provided medical consumables (dressing materials, essential medicines, x-ray films, etc.) to hospitals in Kathmandu and elsewhere.

During the unrest in April 2006, the ICRC provided hospitals in Kathmandu with medical supplies to treat up to 1,000 injured. It has also given financial assistance to people undergoing hospital treatment for injuries sustained in the conflict.

 Economic security  

A total of 1,453 households in 34 districts were given essential household items (such as blankets, tarpaulins and cooking utensils) by the ICRC and the Nepal Red Cross. Of these households, a thousand (in Banke and Bardya districts) had been affected by floods, 189 had been displaced and 264 otherwise affected by the conflict.

In November, the ICRC and the Nepal Red Cross began a micro-economic project aimed at restoring conflict victims'livelihoods that had been lost due to the conflict. The project is being tried out in 13 districts; by the end of the year, 65 households had received assistance.

    

 Water and habitat (Wathab)  

The ICRC, in cooperation with the Nepal Red Cross, is implementing 21 projects to improve the water supply and hygiene in prisons. These are being implemented throughout the country in cooperation with the authorities at national and district levels.

The ICRC is helping scientists at Tribhuvan University to develop biogas, methane and briquette bio-fuels, in order to produce more efficient power sources that will improve detainees'living conditions and facilitate maintenance work.

In rural areas of Nepal, where access to drinking water has been affected by the conflict, the ICRC is helping villagers to improve local supplies. In 17 villages of Jumla district, extensive renovation work on the drinking water schemes is nearing completion. The project also includes the provision of community latrines and repairs to an irrigation system.

In Taplejung district, the Wathab team organised a three-day workshop covering water and sanitation issues to representatives of 27 villages, and distributed tools and spare parts. Further workshops and interventions are planned in other districts.

    

 
Promotion of international humanitarian law (IHL) 
 

During Nepal's armed conflict, the ICRC constantly urged all parties to respect the law, and ensure that it was complied with.

Now, in the changed political situation in Nepal, the ICRC is now focussing on specific aspects of IHL such as missing persons and children. The ICRC will also intensify its efforts to encourage the authorities to ratify outstanding IHL treaties and incorporate them into national legislation.

The ICRC is also intensifying its efforts to increase the capacity of the armed and security forces to train their members in IHL. Numerous discussions on IHL, the ICRC’s activities and its mandate were held with representatives of the CPN-M in different parts of Nepal.

 
Cooperation with the Nepal Red Cross Society 
 

The ICRC works with the Nepal Red Cross Society in its operational activities, such as assistance. It also supports it both financially and technically in order to enhance its operational capacity. An important part of this is in efforts to train staff and volunteers; workshops and seminars held during 2006 included emergency response, first aid, knowledge of IHL and the Movement's principles and emblem.