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20 NOVEMBER 2015 – NEPAL HAS ENTERED A NEW CRISIS
The monsoon has obviously brought the beginning of reconstruction to a halt and it was thus very important to distribute tarpaulins and makeshift shelters in. the weeks following this earthquake so that the population was able to find shelter from the heavy monsoon rains.
Today, it is an unprecedented economic crisis that is affecting Nepal. It is due to non-acceptance of the new constitution by India, the southern neighbour on which Nepal is dependant for the import of everything. Thus India has blocked the import into Nepal of all petroleum products and even essential goods such as food.
This crisis is also partly due to a disagreement over the new constitution with the Madhesis (an ethnic group in the South). The new constitution has divided the country into seven provinces, each including several districts (of which there are 75 in Nepal). The Madhesis are thus divided between several provinces, which they do not accept. What is more, they are poorly represented in parliament despite accounting for 30% of the Nepalese population. Since the middle of September, they have been blocking the Nepali side of the frontier.
This blocking of the frontier by India is all the more firm since the nomination of the new communist government, which does not suit India.
Since the beginning of October, not a single lorry has crossed the frontier. This is progressively draining the country of all essential goods. Already, according to the press, Nepal has lost more than 7 billion dollars. Remember, that is the same figure the government estimated was necessary for reconstruction following the earthquake…
The situation is getting more catastrophic by the day: no more petrol, no more gas bottles, basic foodstuffs becoming rarer… When, even so, a few trucks manage to get through the frontier they face queues of several kilometres at the petrol pumps, lines of hundreds of empty butane gas bottles…. The black market is taking off in a big way. In the markets of Kathmandu they are selling wood for cooking…
It is this context that we are preparing nonetheless for our first camp, in the very poor Mugu district in the.North West of Nepal. This camp will begin in principle on 25 November if, despite everything, we manage to get to the region.