UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
NEPAL: Year in Brief 2005 - Chronology of key events
KATHMANDU, 12 Jan 2006 (IRIN) -
10 February - A much anticipated peace rally scheduled for Thursday in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, ended in silence when the main organisers of the demonstration were arrested soon after their arrival. This was the first time that a mass demonstration had been organised in the capital since King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah declared a state of emergency on 1 February.
3 March - Since the king of Nepal imposed direct rule on the country in February, serious concerns have been voiced over whether donors would withdraw aid. But donors have moved to allay such fears, saying that they will not put pressure on an impoverished and excluded population who are in desperate need of help – particularly in rural areas where they rely entirely on external support.
5 April - Rights activists, international aid workers and local NGO staff in Nepal are seriously concerned over the humanitarian consequences of a nationwide transport strike organised by Maoist rebels to block routes to the capital Kathmandu and other major cities. The strike began on 2 April and is set to last for 11 days.
12 April - Local human rights groups in Nepal have welcomed Kathmandu’s decision on Monday to allow UN human rights monitoring in the country. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Nepali government signed an agreement on 11 April to establish a monitoring operation in the country to assess human rights abuses at the hands of security forces, as well as Maoist rebels.
25 April - A top UN official has called for greater assistance for thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nepal whose suffering remains largely overshadowed by the nine-year-old Maoist insurgency. Walter Kälin, representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights, said on Friday that many of the displaced people needed protection and assistance, describing the caseload as "overlooked and neglected".
18 May - One of Nepal's most effective poverty alleviation projects, the Rural Community Infrastructure Works (RCIW), in Kalikot district, 400 km northwest of the capital, Kathmandu, has been indefinitiely suspended. The action has drawn criticism from national NGOs, government agencies and the communities affected by the decision. On 15 May, the German Development Agency (GTZ), the UK's Department for International Development (DfID), the Dutch Cooperation Agency (SNV) and the United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP) decided to suspend the RCIW as a protest after Maoist insurgents had assaulted a local female development worker involved in the project.
31 May - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has put on hold visits to detainees at army barracks throughout Nepal. The suspension comes after the Royal Nepali Army (RNA) allegedly failed to comply fully with the terms of an agreement with the ICRC regarding what are called 'worldwide working modalities.' These are carefully worded conditions, set down by the Swiss-based organisation, that virtually abstain from making any direct statement against state authorities or other parties to any conflict. The current difficulties centre on the detention of Nepal's Maoist insurgents.
4 July - Ten years ago, when Nepal signed an agreement with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to launch a national programme to eliminate child labour, there were real hopes that the scourge could be significantly reduced. But today activists say that the number of working children in the Himalayan kingdom has increased rather than gone down, in part because of the conditions created by the current insurgency.
21 July - Norway has decided to reduce its bilateral assistance to Nepal following Kathmandu's failure to adhere to democratic principles and human rights after King Gyanendra's seized absolute power of the Himalayan kingdom earlier this year. "Formally we are the first country to take this measure," Norwegian Ambassador to Nepal, Tore Toreng, told IRIN from the capital Kathmandu on Thursday.
25 July - Flood victims in two of Nepal's flood-prone districts, Sunsari and Banke, located in the far eastern and western regions of the country, accuse both the government and international relief agencies of neglecting their plight. In Sunsari district's Mahendranagar village, nearly 700 km east of the capital, Kathmandu, dozens of families have lost their homes and farmlands due to recent flooding in the second week of July from the Saptakosi River, after it eroded nearly 2 km of land.
4 August - Prahlat Sahni is just an ordinary villager living in Sarabal village of Nawalparasi district, about 200 km southeast of the Nepali capital, Kathmandu. He makes a meagre income from his small farm and has no political interest at all. But sitting at home after a hard day’s work, a group of armed villagers calling themselves members of the ‘village defence force’ broke into his house and brutally beat him, accusing him of sympathising with the Maoists, who have been waging a nine year insurgency against the government.
8 August - In Nwali and Deulekh village development committees (VDCs) of Baitadi district, about 800 km west of the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, people live in constant fear of diarrhoea. It’s a simple and easily curable condition yet local villagers see many of their young children die from it every year. Only last month, six children died in less than 20 days due to the lack of basic medicines and assistance from health workers.
17 August - Some national and international NGOs in Nepal say they are seriously concerned over the introduction of the Social Welfare (First Amendment) Ordinance 2005. The new government ruling was promulgated during the last week of July and gives new powers to the state to enable it to control and regulate programmes run by NGOs and their activities. Under the ordinance, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, will be given full authority to issue directives and supervise NGO activities instead of just 'extending support' as laid down in the existing Social Welfare Act, introduced in 1992.
5 September - NGOs and donors have responded positively to a declaration by Maoist rebels in Nepal to observe a three-month ceasefire. "The ceasefire is a great opportunity for the government and political parties, as well as the international community, to work towards peace and development," activist Subodh Pyakhurel said. The rebels have waged a nine-year war to install a communist state in the Himalayan kingdom. A group of 25 human rights organisations were quick to launch a monitoring programme to ensure that the Maoists abide by their ceasefire statement, issued on Saturday.
9 September - Pro-democracy street demonstrations in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, have been attracting increasing public support as more people join thousands of protestors every day. The protests, that have been occurring daily for more than a week, aim to pressurise King Gyanendra to restore multiparty governance, that he suspended in February. The capital’s main streets have been closed most afternoons in recent weeks as protestors throng key centres like New Road, Putali Sadak, Baneswor, Pulchok.
13 September - Latest figures from the 2005 Human Development Report (HDR) indicate Nepal continues to languish at the bottom of the global human poverty index. The Himalayan kingdom’s infant mortality rate is the third highest in the world, with nearly 30,000 children dying each year during their first month of life. “Nepal stands at a crossroads today. The country is facing a very serious crisis: recent advances in development are being threatened and eroded by conflict and instability,” said Ghulam Isaczai, deputy head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nepal, during the launch of the report on Tuesday.
21 September - Aid agencies are to resume one of Nepal’s most successful poverty-alleviation projects, which was suspended in May in protest against assaults on female staff by Maoist rebels. The worst case seen at the Rural Community Infrastructure Works (RCIW) project, located in Kalikot district, nearly 700 northwest of the capital, Kathmandu, was that of Debkala Acharya.
6 October - A European Union troika visiting Nepal says it is worried that the country could be on the verge of political collapse. The three-day visit by the high-level EU team concluded its assessment on Thursday, calling on the government, political parties, rebels and security forces not to lose time in effectively addressing the country's problems. "The real fear we have in our minds is that the failure of the constitutional forces in Nepal to work together would lead to breakdown of the government institutions," head of the delegation Tom Phillips said.
21 October - As the editor of Kantipur, Nepal’s biggest-selling daily, Narayan Wagle no longer feels intimidated by the royal government’s move to curb press freedom. “Journalists are no longer afraid no matter how hard the government tries to break our spirits. We will continue with the same level of [professionalism] by writing the truth, no matter what it takes,” said Wagle. Hundreds of journalists, lawyers, teachers and citizens took to the streets in the capital, Kathmandu, on Friday to condemn the government’s bid to discipline journalists critical of the king and the government.
29 November - Popularly known as South Asia's first community radio station, Radio Sagarmatha has come under immense pressure from the Nepali government not to re-broadcast news from the BBC Nepali Service, following a BBC interview with Maoist rebels. On Sunday, government-armed security personnel raided the station in the Pulchok area of the capital, Kathmandu, seized radio equipment and arrested four workers, including journalists and technicians, after the station aired a BBC interview with Maoist chief, Prachanda. Those arrested were released the next day.
2 December - Political parties and citizens groups have welcomed the decision by Nepal’s Maoist rebels to extend their ceasefire for another month. The three-month unilateral ceasefire announced by the Maoists in September ended on Thursday. “This ceasefire allowed our party and major political parties to reach a far-reaching understanding to pave the way towards resolving the current political crisis in the country,” the Maoists’ top leader, Prachanda, said in press statement on Friday.
23 December - The United Nations office in Nepal has welcomed a statement made by Maoist rebels on Thursday that they would cooperate with the UN and bilateral donor agencies and adhere to the their Basic Operating Guidelines (BOGs) for aid and development work. The Maoists have been waging an armed rebellion against the government for the past nine years but declared a ceasefire in September and recently formed an alliance with political parties to remove the monarchy.
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