Skip to Content

news | June 21, 2016 | Nepal | Emergency

In Nepal, refugees and internally displaced persons still face a critical situation

© ACTED Nepal : Beneficiary revceiving non-food items for winter in Dhading District

The situation of refugees in Nepal since 1996: Between the civil war and the earthquakes, the situation has worsened

Nepal hosts a majority of refugees from Bhutan and Tibet. In the early 1990s, more than 108,000 refugees from Bhutan – approximately 20% of Bhutan's population arrived in Nepal and started living in camps run by the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR). Currently more than 21,000 refugees are originating from Bhutan, 20,000 from Tibet and approximately 650 refugees and asylum seeker in Kathmandu. The UNHCR is the lead humanitarian organization for the refugees in Nepal.

Between 1996 and 2006, the civil war between government armed forces of Nepal and Maoists left thousands of people dead, and many more displaced. The situation of displaced persons has been exacerbated and the number of displaced persons widely expanded by the earthquakes that struck Nepal on 25 April and 12 May 2015, followed by myriads of aftershocks. The earthquakes have killed nearly 8,700 people and injured over 22,000 people. More than 500,000 houses were destroyed and over 270,000 partially damaged. Some areas have become very dangerous because of the increased occurrence of landslides. Consequently, many people have been forced to leave their homes and are now living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) sites across many districts. However, the situation remains volatile and the number of IDPs varies from one week to another.

On World Refugee Day 2016, let's not forget about internally displaced people, who have been forced to flee their homes and villages after the massive destructions caused by these two major earthquakes, the most destructive earthquakes of the past 80 years in Nepal.

ACTED is present in the country since April 2015 to support populations affected by the earthquake. ACTED teams have been deployed two days after the first major earthquake that struck the country on 25 April 2015, providing lifesaving asistance to the most vulnerable people living in mountainous and remote areas of the Himalayas. On the occasion of World Refugee Day, below an insight into ACTED's interventions in the country to support vulnerable people displaced by the major 2015 earthquakes, within an IOM-funded project for camp coordination and camp management activities to support displaced households in Dhading, Sindhupalchok and Dolakha, three of the most earthquake-affected districts.

Many needs remain unmet in camps

Even after a year of the devastating earthquakes there are still many people living in displacement sites across the affected districts living in harsh conditions and with very limited access to proper shelter, WASH facilities, food stuffs and income generating opportunities. To add to the woe of these victims, seasonal climactic conditions have damaged shelters and affected the IDPs. ACTED’s Appraisal Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (AMEU) led Focus Group Discussions in various camps of Dhading, Dolakha and Sindhupalchok to assess the conditions of the IDPs in the camps and to determine whether IDP’s basic needs are being fulfilled. During the assessment it was found that almost three quarter of IDP camps, 74%, in all the three districts of Dolakha, Dhading and Sindhupalchok do not have sufficient water facility and 33% of the camps lack running water facility. ACTED has been working as a sole coordinating agency for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) in three of the earthquake most affected districts to support over 16,000 people, funded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

© ACTED Nepal : IDP site in Dolakha District

ACTED’s response in Nepal

Within this project, ACTED’s main role has been to ensure coordination among stakeholders, including authorities, setting up camp committees to voice the needs of the households living in these camps, and to advocate towards all stakeholders to answer the identified. Eventually, ACTED strives to find long-term housing and economic solutions to restore the livelihoods of displaced people. Apart from the coordination aspect, ACTED has distributed winterization and dignity kits to the IDPs to improve their living standard and has also assessed the needs of each camp regularly. ACTED has also offered economic boost too many IDPs through Cash for Work schemes meant to improve the camp infrastructure (drainage system, maintenance of latrines, etc).

However, number of NGOs, INGOs and government sector is working together in coordination to reconstruct the country but the IDPs needs are yet to be addressed.

© ACTED Nepal : Distribution of hygiene kit and informatin and education communication material in Dolakha District

Rosham’s story

Rosham and his family lived in Reegaun, Dhading, before the earthquakes destroyed their home and lands, on which they used to cultivate wheat and maize. They lost everything. It took them three days to reach the Damgade camp by foot. There, Rosham was supplied with materials to build a temporary home, and his four children have enrolled in nearby schools. In order to restore his family’s livelihood and living standards, Rosham makes and sells traditional baskets on the local market. He hopes to be able to buy a plot of land soon, and start growing crops again. If Rosham could send one message to all other displaced people across the country, he would tell them: “live in peace and be patient”. This activity has been implemented within an ECHO-funded project to provide vital winterization to earthquake-affected populations.