Nepalese activists hold up placards and join hands as they take part in a protest in Kathmandu yesterday, during an ongoing dispute between Nepal and India.
Severe shortages of food and vaccines due to border protests have left millions of children in quake-hit Nepal at risk of disease or death this winter, Unicef said yesterday.
The landlocked Himalayan nation has been struggling to cope with a sharp drop in vital supplies after protesters on September 24 began blockading a key border crossing to demand changes to a new constitution.
Nepal’s government accuses neighbouring India of orchestrating the blockade, a charge it denies.
The disruption has caused crippling shortages of fuel and medicine, leaving aid organisations scrambling to deliver relief to homeless quake victims seven months after the April 25 disaster killed nearly 9,000 people.
“More than 3mn children under the age of five in Nepal are at risk of death or disease during the harsh winter months due to a severe shortage of fuel, food, medicines and vaccines,” Unicef, the UN Children’s Fund, said in a statement.
More than 200,000 families are still living in temporary shelters at an altitude above 1,500m, it said.
“The risks of hypothermia and malnutrition, and the shortfall in life-saving medicines and vaccines, could be a potentially deadly combination for children this winter,” said Anthony Lake, Unicef’s
“They could now be facing a new disaster—without adequate food, protection from the cold, or healthcare.”
The shortages have also resulted in fewer medically-supervised deliveries due to limited ambulance services, putting the lives of some 125,000 expected newborns at risk over the next two months, the
“The plight that children and their families are facing in the country has been worsening by the day and will deteriorate further in the winter months,” said Karin Hulshof, regional director of Unicef for South Asia.
“Unicef urges all sides to address the restrictions on essential imports of supplies to Nepal. There is no time to lose,” Hulshof said.
Scores of trucks have been stranded at the Birgunj border checkpoint in southern Nepal, where protesters from the Madhesi ethnic minority have blocked a bridge for over two months.
Movement across other border checkpoints has also slowed to a crawl, prompting Nepal’s government to accuse India—which has criticised the new constitution—of imposing an “unofficial blockade”.
New Delhi has denied the charge and urged dialogue with the Madhesis, who share close cultural, linguistic and family links with Indians living across the border.
Yesterday, top political leaders met with representatives of the Madhesi ethnic group who are protesting against the new constitution to try to end a crisis in the Himalayan nation but no agreement was reached.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
As temperatures rise, ‘aliens’ threaten Nepal’s national park
New Nepal PM wins confidence vote
Nepal Supreme Court reinstates parliament
Ventilator 'bank' boosts Covid-19 fight in Nepal's hospitals
Flash floods kill 10 people in Bhutan, seven missing in Nepal
Nepal says Everest climbing continues despite reports of Covid-19
Covid risk halts bid to scale Everest
Nepal reels from coronavirus ‘crisis situation’ as infections soar
Exhaustion kills two Everest climbers, an American and a Swiss