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India must help check Nepal's Terai groups: UN

By Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
January 28, 2008 09:46 IST
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Asking India to continue its developmental assistance to Nepal, a senior United Nations official has said New Delhi could help check the groups with suspected links in India that are fomenting unrest in the Terai region.

Matthew Kahane, United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nepal, said although much of the attention on Nepal has been on the ongoing political "evolution", on the humanitarian side things are continuing to be increasingly "vulnerable".

"On the humanitarian side what we are seeing is increasing vulnerabilities and increasing attempts to making people being vulnerable. In something like 40 out of 70 districts of Nepal, we reckon that people are chronically food insecure," the UN official told PTI over phone.

Political disruption makes the situation even more difficult in the landlocked country, Kahane said adding, since Nepal is dependent on India for food and other crucial supplies, the first priority for New Delhi should be to ensure a regular supply of these goods.

At the same time there is concern on the activities of certain groups that are making things difficult for people in the Terai area, he said.

"Some of these groups that are making life difficult in Terai may have some kind of links in north India. It would be enormously helpful if Indian authorities are able to keep these people under control," Kahane said.

He added there is cooperation between authorities on both sides of the Terai region and hoped India will continue with its development assistance to help Nepalese people.

"We have also seen years and years of considerable Indian assistance in things that make a difference to people's lives -- schools, wells, health posts -- financed. That needs to continue because that makes a difference to individual people's lives," Kahane said.

"In the longer term we are certainly looking forward to the resumption of work on the infrastructure" by India and its companies, the UN official said.

The official said there was a great deal of "vulnerability" affecting many people in Nepal and the UN had just launched an appeal for about $100 million to address some of these issues.

"There are always uncertainties in the political process. We have been enormously encouraged by the consistent support of the government of India, whether it is logistics in providing vehicles, easy access and all of that has been tremendously helpful," Kahane said.

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Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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