Friday 24 November 2017

Nepalese police tear down earthquake victims' camp

Police remove temporary houses in a quake victims' shelter in Kathmandu, Nepal (Niranjan Shrestha/AP)
Police remove temporary houses in a quake victims' shelter in Kathmandu, Nepal (Niranjan Shrestha/AP)

Authorities have torn down hundreds of makeshift huts in Nepal's capital, using bulldozers to level the largest temporary camp housing people who were made homeless when a devastating earthquake rocked the country two years ago.

Wearing riot gear, police said they destroyed about 440 huts made of bamboo and plastic sheeting which had been home to about 2,000 people near Kathmandu's Boudha Shrine.

Settlers had been given one month's notice, but were still taken by surprise when the bulldozers appeared.

Many rushed to collect their belongings, saying they had nowhere else to go after authorities offered no alternative housing.

"Our home is destroyed. I have no idea where I am going to go and live with my one-year-old baby," said Chameli Pariyar, 40, who said she was too sick to work and planned to beg in nearby temples.

Authorities said they were urging the residents to instead apply for government aid to help rebuild their homes.

"We gave them enough time to leave and told them to go back to their villages, so they can collect the grant given by the government," said Him Nath Dawadi, a government administrator in Kathmandu.

Nepal has been sharply criticised for moving slowly in helping people rebuild after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake ripped across the Himalayan nation in April 2015, killing 9,000 people and destroying nearly a million homes and structures.

Only about 250 million dollars (£206 million) in aid has been dispersed for some 554,614 homeless families, out of a total 2.6 billion dollars (£2.1 billion) Nepal has collected from four billion dollars (£3.3 billion) pledged by foreign governments, according to the National Reconstruction Authority.

The payments already made cover just the first 450 dollar (£370) instalment out of a planned total of 1,890 (£1,557) for each qualifying family.

The Boudha camp destroyed on Tuesday was the largest makeshift camp for those displaced by the earthquake.

There are dozens of other smaller makeshift camps around the Nepalese capital, but officials said there are no immediate plans to demolish those.

The government-funded National Human Rights Commission criticised the Boudha camp destruction, and said it would press the government to help the displaced residents.

"This was an inhuman act by the authorities," said Mohna Ansari, of the commission.

AP

Press Association

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