Border blockade: US warns visiting citizens

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 10, 2015-

The United States has advised its citizens to reconsider their travel plans to Nepal due to the ongoing protest in Tarai region and shortage of fuel and other essentials due to “blockages at the border with India”.

The US Department of State on Thursday issued a notification on its website stating: “Sporadic demonstrations and civil unrest in the Tarai region of Nepal may affect tourist travel to the southern region.” It further said that the shortage could disrupt public transportation around Nepal and warned that provision of normal goods and services including food may be affected.

The notice replaces the last travel warning the US had issued on July 2, cautioning against unstable buildings and landslips as a result of the April 25 earthquake. The new warning retains the threat posed by earthquakes, but has added fuel shortage and violent demonstrations as further causes for concern.

“As of today these services are still operational, but service providers are facing dwindling supplies,” the US Department of State writes. “If you are planning multi-day travel the situation could change drastically during your trip.”

Some analysts read this as the US Embassy in Kathmandu acknowledging that the shortage was due to the blockade by India.

Following the promulgation of the constitution in Nepal by the sovereign Constituent Assembly, India imposed a border blockade against Nepal. The blockade has entered 18th day on Friday, but the Indian government has so far refused to acknowledge it.

The Indian establishment has been blaming the ongoing demonstrations in the Tarai for its failure to clear customs for fuel and other imports.

Carter’s trip scrapped over fuel shortage

Fuel shortages in Nepal have forced former US president Jimmy Carter, who is battling brain cancer, to cancel his visit to the country next month, Habitat for Humanity International said.

The Nobel laureate had planned to visit with the Atlanta-based non-profit organisation as part of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project to build homes in Chitwan.

But the organisation cancelled the visit citing a nationwide shortage of fuel and other vital supplies due to a border blockade.

“I am saddened that we have had to cancel this year’s Carter Work Project,” Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International’s chief executive, said in a statement released late on Thursday.

“The severity of the shortages has proven to be insurmountable and given the circumstances, we would not be able to guarantee volunteer care and safety.” Carter, 91, had expressed his wish to visit Nepal in August, when he revealed that he has cancer on his brain.

“While I am disappointed that we are unable to build in Nepal due to such uncertain circumstances, Rosalynn and I understand and support Habitat’s decision,” Carter said, referring to his wife.

“We will keep the people of Nepal in our prayers and ask everyone to do the same.” (AFP)

Published: 10-10-2015 08:21

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