UN agencies announce emergency aid to Nepali victims of riots

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United Nations, Sep 27 (UNI) UN agencies announced an emergency aid programme to provide relief to 5,000 people displaced by communal violence in two districts of western Nepal.

Atleast 31 were killed and dozens injured or missing after riots broke out, following the killing of the leader of an anti-Maoist group in the Terai region bordering India. Hundreds of houses, stores, vehicles and schools were burnt or looted. Some of the victims even fled to India.

''We are doing our best to rapidly respond to this humanitarian emergency, but the security situation remains tense,'' UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country Representative Richard Ragan said yesterday about his agency's plan to distribute more than 70 tonnes of food at the Nepali government's request.

''WFP food assistance should begin arriving within the next two days as long as the security situation does not worsen,'' he added.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is to provide tarpaulins, water purification equipment, cooking utensils, hygiene kits and mosquito nets.

''UNICEF is extremely concerned about children caught up in this new cycle of violence. All schools in the area remain closed and some have been razed to the ground, depriving children of their fundamental right to education,'' UNICEF Country Representative Gillian Mellsop said.

A curfew has been imposed in some areas, including Kapilvastu, to curb the violence and displaced people are living in public buildings, schools, army camps or in open spaces due to 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,'' Ms Mellsop said.

''We call upon all community leaders to end the unrest so that children can begin to recover from this tragic episode,'' she urged.

Many of those displaced are from very poor and marginalised communities with 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,'' Mr Ragan said.

In addition to non-food relief items, UNICEF and its partners are working to restore the educational system by providing teaching, learning materials and psycho-social care for traumatised children.

Despite UN calls to the government to provide public security and appeals for tolerance across the diverse communities in the region, some areas remain volatile. The UN human rights office continues to investigate the violence and monitor the situation.

UNI

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