NEPAL is “slipping into another humanitarian crisis” as the protest-led shutdown of the Indian border continues to prevent the delivery of earthquake relief, food, petrol, and medicine, causing violent clashes, a campaign worker has said.
In the past two months, at least 50 people have been killed in violence between police and ethnic minority protesters along the 1088-mile open border. More than three-quarters of Nepal’s international trade is with India, and the country relies almost completely on its southern neighbour for fuel.
“Charities and NGOs can no longer get to the affected areas because of petrol shortages,” Martin, a campaigner for the child labour charity Bachpan Bachao Andolan, who lives in the capital, Kathmandu, wrote in his blog last month.
Protesters from the Madhesi ethnic minority have been blocking the border because they say that the new federal constitution in Nepal discriminates against their community.
The document, passed by the constitute assembly in September, defines the nation — which is majority Hindu — as a secular republic, divided into seven federal provinces.
The Madeshis, who make up nearly 40 per cent of the population of Nepal, say that they will be under-represented in the new constitution.
Reports from Indian newspapers last week, however, suggest that talks between the government and the Madeshis are under way.