Nepal

Nepal: Koshi River Floods in Sunsari and Saptari OCHA Situation Report No. 11

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Key Highlights

- Verification process almost complete in Sunsari but Indian nationals have yet to be included

- Embankment Repair works underway, completion expected in March 2009

- 25 - 50% displaced families return to Shirpur VDC, parts of Haripur VDC see 10% return, emphasising the need for a comprehensive returns prorgam

- Serious concerns about WASH conditions

I. Situation in Sunsari and Saptari Districts, Eastern Nepal

1. The Government of Nepal estimates approximately 70,000 people are affected by flooding in the area. According to the preliminary results of the inter-agency Koshi River Flood Impact assessment, a total of 66,500 individuals have been displaced by the flood of which 42% are of Indian origin.

2. Spontaneous returns have begun. UN OCHA, WFP, Save the Children and NRCS conducted a series of visits to areas of return and found that following the recent food distribution, people from the Shiripur and Haripur VDCs had returned to their homes. 25 - 50% of families were home in parts of Shiripur and nearly 100% of families had returned to areas around Bhantabari, Haripur. Some returnees in Bhantabari, Haripur reported that they would return to camps after the Nov 4th holiday in order to access services and the food distribution. In other areas, IDPs were returning and starting to rebuild and bringing livestock with them. Communities visited were concerned that they would miss out on food distribution if they did not return to the camps and were hoping for government assistance. Other issues raised were snakes found in houses after the flooding and an increase in mosquitoes due to the stagnant water in the area. Some areas inundated by sand from the floods may render the land infertile in the near future.

3. There is a need for a clear returns policy and support program. A meeting in Sunsari on Oct 24th concluded that IOM would consolidate return intention and obstacle information collected from camps and during the food distribution for a report available on Nov 6th. A rapid assessment of areas of return by government live agencies has been delayed due to the holidays. A meeting is scheduled with Sunsari line agencies on Nov 5th to discuss when such an assessment could take place. Agencies and district government are in agreement about the need for a return package and returns strategy, however, there are mixed signals from Kathmandu about how such a plan could move forward.

4. The registration verification exercise will finish in Sunsari during the first week of November. The verification teams are scheduled to cross to the Saptari side after completing Sunsari. IOM and UNHCR have offered logistic support to the verification teams and IOM is leading discussions to ensure that the verification process includes the recommendations made by a UNHCR registration/verification technical support mission on Oct 20th.

5. The plan for the return of Indians displaced into Nepal is an outstanding issue. Indians are leaving the collective centers in Sunsari after not being verified, but without support and their final destination is unclear. A spontaneous settlement of displaced Indians has formed across from the Laukhi customs office and residents are getting no visible support.

6. Collective centers (Schools and madarasas) continue to empty with the majority of reaming collective centers emptied over the Nov. 1st weekend. Spontaneous settlements continue to appear as a result including two at the site of the new camp in Pashim Kushaha VDC.

7. Formal settlement of the new site in Pashim Kushaha VDC has begun. However, the majority of IDPs brought here from collective centrs have preferred to return to their homes and the population of this new camp is lower than anticipated. Facilities at this new site are not in place.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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