Gandaki provincial- level meeting of survivors and recommendations to the government

On the 8th of September 2021, Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal (NCBL) organized a province-level meeting for survivors of Landmines and other Explosive devices in the province of Gandaki. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Dudhraj Adhikari, a survivor, who has been appointed as the coordinator of Gandaki. The meeting was attended by representatives of six districts including Bharat Gautam (Kaski), Ram Chandra Bik (Kaski), Ruban Shrestha (Kaski), Gita Magar (Tanahu), Krishna Pathak (Syanja), Sunita Ghale (Lamjung), Surendra Khatri (Myagdi) and Purna Shova Chitrakar and Kamala Shrestha from NCBL.

In the meeting, participants shared stories of their accidents as well as the challenges they are currently facing. Various proposals also were put forward to restore normalcy to the lives of the people affected by the conflict, landmines and other explosives and to their proper relief and rehabilitation, to free Nepal from the problem of landmines and explosives and to ensure that no one is affected by such inhumane weapons in the days to come. During this meeting, the participants reached a decision to submit these proposals in the form of a memorandum to the Central, Provincial and Local Governments as well as the previously conflicting parties of the armed conflict, various political parties. These point are delineated in the following points.

·        There is a lack of clear statistics on the number and demography of people injured, disabled and killed by landmines and explosives. The government should maintain clear records for each district.

·        As the original documents proving the accident submitted by the victims are lost by the responsible bodies of the district, the survivors have become more vulnerable. To prevent such a situation from happening again, the records of the victims should be reliably documented in an electronic system.

·        We are saddened to hear through the victims that the distribution of "disability color cards" is based on access and affiliation to the staffs and on affiliation with political parties. Color cards must be distributed to the survivors and persons with disabilities on the basis of truth, facts and in a fair and transparent manner.

·        As victims have to take medicine for the rest of their life due to disability from explosives, a certain amount of the medicine should be provided freely. The government should provide priority to survivors of conflict in issues such as vaccination and aid for nutritious food for the survivors of the conflict during COVID-19.

·        Large stockpiles of explosives are still being found during major constructions such as bridges and other infrastructure even a decade after the cessation of conflict. The previously conflicting parties must take it seriously and survey the possibility of existing caches of explosive and report these sites immediately to the official demining teams.

·        Despite the peace agreement reached in 2006, landmines and explosives laid during the conflict continue to kill and maim civilians long after the peace agreement. But the government's policy of providing services and facilities to the victims only on the basis of the incidents before the peace agreement has left many survivors suffering. It is urgent to provide the same services and facilities to the survivors of any landmines explosive remnants of war after the peace agreement as those before.

·        As the Mine Ban Treaty makes it easier to enact national laws against landmines and explosives, governments at all levels must pressure the government to become party to the Mine Ban Treaty to protect humanitarian laws and rights as well as advocate for and assist victims.

·        Violence propagated by political against the constitution and law are fueling violence in the country. This has ultimately hit civilians. All political parties should pay attention in this regard.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be extended and activate to resolve the problem of survivors of landmines and ERW and survivors of conflict.