Nepal

Ten summers ago in Nepal, the Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal emerged from hiding just as the decade-long insurgency he had directed was pushing the country’s monarchy to its knees. The rebel chief was picked up by a government helicopter, then whisked to the prime minister’s residence in Kathmandu to begin official peace talks.

By that time, after more than 20 years in hiding, he had become a legend, widely known by his nom de guerre, Prachanda, meaning “the fierce one.” Few knew what he looked like. India’s restive Communist circles came to extol and emulate his tactical prowess. He had started the civil war, which took more than 16,000 lives, with two rifles from among those dropped by the C.I.A.…  Seguir leyendo » “A Maoist’s Burden in Nepal”

Waiting in line for cooking gas in Kathmandu. Credit Narendra Shrestha/European Pressphoto Agency

Just before the annual festival season began across Nepal last month, nearly a decade after a civil war, and six months after a catastrophic earthquake, the country ushered in a new Constitution.

Ideally, its long-awaited arrival would have brought relief, if not celebration to my fellow citizens. Instead, the new charter has thrown the country into violent turmoil and a confrontation with India over its contents. With little recourse or leverage in the region, Nepal has often given in to its powerful neighbor’s demands; this time, it has responded to India’s interference by warming up to its rival, China. That’s a smart move on Nepal’s part, but one it has to make carefully between two powerful neighbors.…  Seguir leyendo » “Nepal, Between the Dragon and the Elephant”

“Ke garne?” an old lady said to us, tears pouring down her cheeks, as we visited her earthquake-battered village in the Dhading district of Nepal last month: “What to do?” With a history of repeated crises — political, economic and natural — it has become the Nepali way to shrug one’s shoulders and hope for the best.

Sadly, people have been hoping for a long time: even before the earthquakes, Nepal was one of the poorest, most corrupt and least equal countries in the world. Now, despite the recent destruction and suffering, Nepal has a real opportunity not only to re-build broken lives and shattered infrastructure but also to begin the process of creating a new, more inclusive and accountable society.…  Seguir leyendo » “Shaking Up the Status Quo in Nepal”

“Where is the aid?” I get asked this question from the media during almost every major disaster we respond to. The Nepal earthquake, which took place a month ago, has been no different.

Helping people understand why large volumes of aid are not arriving within 24 hours of a disaster is something that requires constant explanation.

It is always the “first responders” who make the most difference in the first days after a disaster — and this includes the individuals, local organizations and companies that gather whatever supplies they can from local markets. They can load up a car or truck with food, blankets and other materials and deliver small amounts of aid rapidly.…  Seguir leyendo » “One month after Nepal quake, a struggle for aid”

L’Unicef estime à presque 3 millions le nombre d’enfants affectés par le tremblement de terre au Népal. Ces enfants ont besoin d’une aide rapide. Ils ont survécu au séisme et à ses répliques mais certains se retrouvent séparés de leur famille. Des enfants orphelins? Difficile de répondre à cette question vu le chaos qui règne encore dans le pays. Les enfants du Népal ont besoin d’aide, mais pas n’importe laquelle.

En période de crise, l’émotionnel et le sensationnalisme forment parfois un cocktail explosif. En 2010, lors du tremblement de terre qui secoua Haïti, des vagues d’étrangers débarquèrent pour secourir des «orphelins», soit en les sortant du pays pour les faire adopter à l’étranger, soit en finançant des orphelinats dans lesquels ces enfants furent placés.…  Seguir leyendo » “Les enfants du Népal ont besoin de soutien, pas d’orphelinats”

Nepali soldiers and policemen run with parcels of food aid during relief operations following the April 25 earthquake. (Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Our lives have been divided between before and after. For all of us, from Achham to Ilam, from those who felt only a tremble to those whose houses turned to dust, an irrevocable moment arrived at 11:56 a.m. April 25. We all knew, with every glance northward to the towering Himalayas, that this moment would come. We knew this, but when it finally arrived, it still somehow felt impossible.

The earthquake is the largest test for Nepal’s young, poverty-afflicted democracy since the end of civil conflict in 2006. The local and global response to this tragedy has been swift and compassionate, and we hope that it can alleviate much of the immediate suffering.…  Seguir leyendo » “‘Building back better’ after an earthquake”

Death and destruction in Nepal

Death and destruction have dominated recent news. Mass media deserted the tragedy of migrants fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and being smuggled to Europe in overladen boats. They had found a more powerful disaster, and rushed to earthquake-savaged Nepal.

Heart-wrenching scenes in Kathmandu of bewildered homeless people amidst the rubble of ancient temples were vividly beamed into comfortable living rooms thousands of miles away, showing how ruthless is the destructive power of nature. Three days after the quake, confusion still reigned: one man said sadly that he had received a single packet of noodles to eat but did not know whether it had been provided by the government or by some NGO.…  Seguir leyendo » “Death and destruction in Nepal”

Living on the fault line that has produced the world’s highest mountain ranges, the people of Nepal knew there would be a major earthquake someday.

Yet last Saturday’s heartbreaking losses still come as a devastating blow, from which Nepal will take years to recover. As the world pitches in to help with immediate relief, thoughts are also beginning to turn to long-term recovery. In the aftermath of the quake, Nepal’s musical traditions can help buoy the resilience and spirit necessary to rebuild the country.

When they could finally reach each other by phone, flutist Nirmal Singh related his experience of the earthquake to his uncle in Hawaii, who relayed his story to me.…  Seguir leyendo » “In Nepal, lift spirits through music”

Our faith in authority is fading as we start to rebuild Nepal ourselves

Saturdays are special here in Nepal. It’s the day we particularly look forward to, the day of masu bhat – meat curries and rice – and the day we make plans to do nothing. Last Saturday was no different. Until, that is, the powerful earthquake rattled the earth beneath us, killing thousands of people and reducing towns and villages to rubble and leaving central Nepal in tatters. More than 6,000 people have lost their lives and the numbers of missing and injured are rapidly climbing.

I saw a section of the wall that surrounds our building collapse as we made our way outside, petrified, to the only open space at a nearby school playground.…  Seguir leyendo » “Our faith in authority is fading as we start to rebuild Nepal ourselves”

A large tin trunk filled with bottled water, canned food, blankets and a flashlight sat in our Katmandu garden for the four years we lived there. It was a daily reminder that tectonic plates were moving and a massive earthquake was overdue. I was privy to confidential reports that predicted what might happen when the earthquake hit. In a worst-case scenario, Katmandu Valley — an ancient dried-up lake bed — would “liquefy,” turning to mush. Thousands of flimsy brick buildings would collapse, and several hundred thousand people would be crushed to death.

The devastation from last week’s earthquake and its many aftershocks is absolutely horrible.…  Seguir leyendo » “Quake should serve to shake up Nepal’s lax system of government”

For a small Himalayan state, Nepal has gone through more than its share of tragedies in recent years.

The country has seen the political system crumbled and democratic institutions in tatters. Now, the earthquake has struck a huge blow in which the mountains have crumbled.

Nepal as a state has existed in various forms for more than 2,500 years and has been a tourist magnet because of the mountains and picturesque ancient temples dotted around the Kathmandu Valley.

It was very heartrending to see the scale of devastation in my birthplace. I have regarded my native country as the land of holy mountains.…  Seguir leyendo » “What is missing in Nepal”

Images coming out of Nepal’s devastating earthquake on Saturday reminded me of another earthquake of similar magnitude that occurred 81 years ago. That earthquake of 1934, or nabbey salko bhuichalo, as it was referred to throughout my childhood in Katmandu, had acquired an air of a legend, delivered in black-and-white photos of men and women in traditional garb standing amid the rubble.

But the 1934 earthquake, which killed more than 10,000 people, was a thing of the past, recalled by old folks, resurrected only in history books and works of fiction. History came alive on Saturday at 5 a.m. when I opened my laptop to write, in Bloomington, Ind., and saw the news.…  Seguir leyendo » “Nepal earthquake: We had been warned”

I’ve visited Nepal at least half a dozen times over the last decade, and of the more than 100 countries that Save the Children serves, it is undoubtedly one of my favorites. There are the usual things that are said about it — the stunning landscape, which includes Mount Everest, and the amazing food.

But Nepal has also made some of the most remarkable progress on maternal and child health in the last few years.

In fact, I remember a time just last May when I sat with a group of mothers and their tiny babies as they told me how proud they were that they now understood how important it was to make sure they prioritized breastfeeding and nutritious foods.…  Seguir leyendo » “For Nepal quake relief effort, time is not on our side”

In a tragic echo of the catastrophic events in Haiti in 2010, a powerful earthquake struck one of the poorest nations on Earth today. The latest estimates from seismologists put the magnitude at 7.9, which would actually makes it about 40% larger than the 7.8 currently being reported. That’s less than half the size of the previous major event nearby in 1934, which killed around 10,000 people.

Unfortunately, it is quite possible the number of dead in Kathmandu could rise to match it.

We knew this disaster was coming eventually. Geophysicists have long monitored how fast the Earth’s plates are moving, and we know that the entire subcontinent of India is being driven slowly but surely underneath Nepal and Tibet at a speed of around 1.8 inches per year.…  Seguir leyendo » “A tragedy waiting to happen”

Lejos del foco de los titulares mundiales, Nepal está luchando con una crisis constitucional que une vez más podría propulsar a la meca turística, situada delicadamente entre India y China, a un conflicto abierto.

De 1996 a 2006, Nepal estuvo asolado por una guerra civil que provocó un movimiento insurgente contra la monarquía que había gobernado durante largo tiempo, cuyo poderoso ejército contó en un principio con el respaldo de los partidos políticos democráticos del país. La paz se logró únicamente (quebrantada por India con el apoyo activo de las Naciones Unidas) cuando los maoístas y los demócratas acordaron en 2005 establecer una asamblea constituyente.…  Seguir leyendo » “Problemas en el paraíso nepalés”

Niché entre l’Inde et la Chine, le Népal figure sur la carte mentale de la plupart d’entre nous comme le pays de l’Himalaya et de l’Everest. Lors d’une recherche images sur Google, on aperçoit rarement autre chose que des photos de montagnes de contes de fées, des vertes rizières surplombant des lacs bleus immaculés, et des temples avec des enfants au sourire éclatant.

Autant le dire, notre imaginaire du Népal est colonisé par un rêve de nature, et nous avons du mal à penser à ce pays en d’autres termes. Ce qui est dommage, car ces temps-ci, le Népal passe par des transformations et des convulsions sociales importantes.…  Seguir leyendo » “Le Népal aux cent ethnies cherche sa voie vers un Etat plus juste”

Visiting Nepal for a South Asia summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dropped plans to hold rallies at the birthplaces of the Buddha and a Hindu goddess, after controversy over whether he was gaining too much prominence inside Nepal.

Suspicion of India is common among South Asia’s smaller nations, and the sensitivies shown in Nepal would be a small reminder for Modi as he seeks to show leadership in a region scarred by ethnic and religious divides.

Modi earned some goodwill in May by inviting the region’s leaders, including arch-rival Pakistan, to his inauguration.

He will be hoping to follow up on that success during the two-day summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Kathmandu that starts on Wednesday.…  Seguir leyendo » “Modi gives Buddha a miss as South Asian leaders flock to Nepal”

Isn’t climbing supposed to be one of “the” symbols of comradeship and team work? During the time Tenzing Norgay Sherpa — who would have been 100 years old Thursday — and Edmund Hillary climbed Everest in 1953, everyone was involved and shared the risk, the challenges and the joys of adventure.

How different it has been this year. As the world moves on to read of the next tragedy from Asia, the loss of 16 lives in an avalanche on Everest on April 18 at the start of the climbing season is for many likely to be yesterday’s news.

For us, though, our deep sense of sadness remains, only made worse by the tales of family and friends whom we have grown up or worked with in the Himalayan region.…  Seguir leyendo » “Too high a price for Sherpas”

On a bright afternoon in June of 1922, the Mount Everest pioneer George Mallory was leading a group of 17 men tied together in three separate rope teams toward the North Col of the mountain when he heard an ominous sound, and turned to see an avalanche fracturing the steep slope above them.

Mallory and his rope mates were spared the brunt force of the slide, but the two teams following them — comprising 14 porters from Darjeeling, India — were swept down the mountain. Seven died. Mount Everest had claimed its first known victims.

One of Mallory’s companions, Howard Somervell, would later write, “I would gladly at that moment have been lying there dead in the snow, if only to give those fine chaps who had survived the feeling that we had shared their loss….”

On Friday, about 6:30 in the morning, another avalanche rumbled down Everest.…  Seguir leyendo » “The Risks of Everest Are Deadlier for Some”

Nepal may be known for natural beauty and Mount Everest, but there is a dark side to this small, picturesque country. Women and girls are being bought, sold and smuggled across the Nepal-India border. Although reliable data on the scope of the issue is difficult to gather, Unicef reports that as many as 7,000 women and girls are trafficked out of Nepal to India every year, and around 200,000 are now working in Indian brothels.

I traveled to Nepal last spring to document the growing problem of sex trafficking and unsafe migration, spending the majority of time in Katmandu and along the Nepal-India border.…  Seguir leyendo » “Women, Bought and Sold in Nepal”