Terror in Nepal’s Terai after ex-Maoists’ threats

July 16th, 2008 - 3:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, July 16 (IANS) Almost two years after the end of the Maoist war in Nepal and signing of a peace pact, the Terai plains along the India-Nepal border are braced for fresh violence with an armed group of former Maoists asking aid agencies to quit within 10 days. Besides the rebel group, humanitarian agencies, including UN bodies, are also under siege from the Maoists, who are poised to form the new government by this month.

A faction of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM), a band of former Maoists, has asked the staff of development projects to leave Terai, causing grave concern to international agencies, including the UN.

After the Rajan Mukti faction of the splintered underground outfit issued a press statement, asking the staff of projects and I/NGOs from the Terai to leave the plains in 10 days, “development partners are at alarm stage and taking precautions while moving in field and other activities”, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (OCHA) said in a press statement.

In addition, the Maoists, who in the past undertook to allow aid agencies to work without any hindrance, are now increasingly targeting them.

The OCHA has documented at least seven incidents of unacceptable pressure by the Maoists.

In Dadeldhura district in farwest Nepal, an organisation ceased to plan projects after Maoist interference. In Rukum in the midwest, a Maoist stronghold, the former guerrillas forced an organisation to close its field programmes.

In Ramechhap, another Maoist stronghold, the UN was pressured to hire a Maoist candidate on one of its projects while in Morang district near the India-Nepal border, the former insurgents outright demanded money from a UN agency for one of their programmes.

OCHA has also documented incidents of the Maoists threatening the staff of NGOs, interfering in their budget and programme-planning and sending letters to development agencies, asking for “financial assistance”.

“In the month of June, there was an increase in the number of reported basic operating guidelines violations throughout the country, in particular the central and eastern Terai regions,” the UN agency said.

The statement comes even as the interim government of Nepal, which includes the Maoists, has asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to extend the operation of a UN agency by a further six months.

The UN Mission in Nepal, a political mission that is supervising the arms and combatants of the Maoists, will see its tenure end July 23.

However, Ban has said that unless the government clarified the future role of UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), he would recommend a one-month extension at the UN Security Council meeting in New York Friday.

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