Will Nepal coup play into the hands of Maoist rebels?

Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2005 05:33 am
Some of the structural news from Nepal turns out to be surprisingly good:


Marty Logan, Inter Press Service (IPS)
Wed Sep 7, 9:10 PM ET

KATHMANDU, Sep 6 (IPS) - Nearly 30,000 Nepali children die yearly in their first month of life, the third highest rate in the world. Yet, the battered country is on track to slash under-five mortality by two-thirds within a decade, says the United Nations. [..]

The child death target is one of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the global community in 2000. [..] A UN report released here Monday documents Nepal's steps in reaching those targets.

''Nepal has made significant progress over the past 15 years in reducing poverty, improving access to education, health services and drinking water... [But] a massive drop in the country's poverty rate in the past eight years (by 11 percent), reported earlier this year, was tempered by the finding that the gap between reach and poor is widening. [..]

According to the report, by 2015 Nepal is likely to meet the MDG goal of halving the proportion of people living below the national poverty line. Cutting in half the fraction of people who do not have access to safe drinking water is another target ''likely'' to be met, it adds. [..]

But ''the report strongly states that the goal of achieving universal primary education is unlikely to be met''. Similarly, efforts will likely fail to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, despite some improvements.

Follows a bit on political developments:

Development in Nepal, one of South Asia's poorest countries where nearly four out of 10 people lives on less than a dollar a day, has been stunted by a Maoist uprising that has spread across most of the countryside. In the past decade, 12,000 people have died. [..] On Feb. 1 King Gyanendra fired the government for failing to defeat the Maoists. [..]

On Saturday, the Maoists declared a unilateral three-month ceasefire, coinciding with the festival season in this officially Hindu nation; the government said Monday it is ''too early'' to embrace the move. Others see it as the rebels' attempt to further woo political parties -- that have reluctantly joined hands to fight the king and restore parliament -- into an alliance.

And back to the subject of improving health and development:

[F]or children, developments such as better control of diarrhoea, improved immunisation, nation-wide Vitamin A supplements and better management of acute respiratory illnesses, especially pneumonia, are likely causes for the ''remarkable reduction'' in Nepal's child mortality in the last 30 years, says the report.

If that progress continues, the country will probably attain the MDG child mortality goal despite the conflict's destructive impact on rural life.

With an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 0.5 percent in the 15-49 age group, the disease would not seem to be a big health threat. However, "data suggests that Nepal has entered the stage of a concentrated epidemic," says the report. ''This means that HIV/AIDS prevalence consistently exceeds five percent in some sub-populations such as female sex workers and injecting drug users.''

If the disease follows trends elsewhere it will move from those sub- groups to the general population, warns the report. This ''has the potential to cause an explosive epidemic''.

One study estimates AIDS could be the leading cause of death in the 15- 49 age group by the end of the decade. ''The alarm bells have started ringing,'' says Pande, adding, ''not enough has been done''. [..]

Asked to summarise the report's results, Pande responded: ''The trend so far looks good. Progress is on track but there is uncertaintyif things improve and we can upscale development to include disadvantaged groups, this will also contribute to the peace process.''
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2005 05:38 am
But there are still demonstrations going on:

Gulf Daily News
Vol XXVIII NO. 172 Thursday 8th September 2005

50 held in Nepal rallies for reform

KATHMANDU: 50 people were detained and eight, including a policeman were hurt as police fired water cannon and teargas and used rattan sticks to break up pro-democracy rallies yesterday.

Protesters shouting "We don't want autocracy. Democracy can't be destroyed!" threw rocks and bricks at riot police battling to prevent activists from seven main political parties entering the city centre, where anti-king rallies are banned.

Police said 50 protesters had been detained and eight people, including a policeman, hurt. At the same time, authorities said, hundreds of other protesters detained in anti-Gyanendra rallies since the weekend had been freed.

The latest protests came as Maoist leader Prachanda, in an interview with pro-rebel weekly Janadesh, said his group was open to talks with the government if it matched their weekend truce and let Nepalis decide their future. Maoist announced a programme of unspecified protests coinciding with the three-month unilateral ceasefire they declared last week.

"The party's central committee has decided to organise various protest programmes at district and local levels in a phase-wise manner for three months during the truce period," Prachanda said.

Nepal army said the rebels killed a soldier, taken an unarmed policeman hostage and robbed trucks and buses since declaring a unilateral cease-fire over the weekend.

An explosion blamed on the rebels killed a soldier near the village of Pokharichaur, about 160km east of Kathmandu, the Royal Nepalese Army said.

It said an unarmed policeman, Krishna Ram, who was returning home from vacation was taken hostage by the rebels near Hapur.
0 Replies

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