Nepal 2005: Rajena camp near Nepalganj

News and Press Release
Originally published
Due to the nine-year war between Maoist insurgents and the government, the humanitarian situation in Nepal has steadily deteriorated in recent years. Analysts estimate that as a result of the conflict between 100,000-200,000 people are internally displaced in Nepal. Unlike other countries with large populations of displaced people, Nepal has only one small camp for internally displaced, known as Regina camp, located near the town of Nepalganj in western Nepal. Most of the IDPs in Nepal do not want to be identified for fear of being targeted by Maoists or security forces.

There are around 200 families living in Regina camp. Although the people living in this camp are some of the more visible displaced persons in Nepal, their situation is not typical. The camp is in government-controlled territory, and the land for the IDP camp was provided by government officials. Most of the residents of the camp are political party leaders, government officials, and land owners. Many of the camp residents acknowledge that they are middle class and some of the displaced persons in the camp are able to rent accommodation in Nepalganj. Others, however, such as the Dalits or untouchables in the camp, are extremely vulnerable. Until recently, the displaced were receiving food and assistance with construction of shelter, latrines and wells from NGOs.

Sunita came to Nepalganj with her three children from Jumla, a remote district of western Nepal. The Maoists came to Sunita's home four years ago, threatened her husband and ransacked all their belongings. Her husband was targeted for being a government school teacher; the Maoists are opposed to government school education and want it replaced with their own curriculum called the "people's education." Sunita and the children fled to Nepalganj while her husband relocated to the Jumla district headquarters, which remains under government control. According to Sunita, her husband continues to teach, but each month he has to give up to half his salary to the Maoists. Since the start of the Maoist insurgency, more than 160 schoolteachers from all parts of Nepal have been killed as the result of the armed conflict, and an estimated 3,000 teachers have been displaced from their schools, fleeing their villages in search of security in district headquarters.

Children are particularly at risk in this conflict as they are being forcibly conscripted by the Maoists and the education system in their villages has collapsed. Both the Maoists and the security forces have used schools for military purposes, and military attacks on schools have increased children's vulnerability. In order to protect their children, entire families are either migrating from rural areas to government controlled urban centers like Nepalganj, or sending their children to the urban centers. The urban centers don't have the resources to deal with the increased population and basic services like education are overstretched with not enough teachers or materials to meet the needs of the children.

To view photos, click here.