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Protect marginalised groups during COVID-19 crisis

Graphic: Entrance sign to NHRC office, Kathmandu

A high-level monitoring committee headed by the NHRC has expressed serious concern about the desperate humanitarian situation of many groups.

A high-level monitoring committee headed by the National Human Rights Commission has expressed serious concern about the desperate humanitarian situation of thousands of daily wagers in Kathmandu Valley, patients requiring medical check-up and people returning to their villages during the nation-wide lockdown imposed by the government.

The monitoring committee was recently formed to monitor various issues, including the government's performance in the fight against COVID-19, provision of medical treatment, consumer rights, freedom of expression, access to justice and civic duties during the ongoing crisis.

The committee, headed by NHRC Commissioner Govinda Sharma Paudyal, includes representatives from the Nepal Bar Association, the Federation of Nepali Journalists and the NGO Federation of Nepal.

According to the NHRC, the monitoring team found hundreds of marginalised people – including women, children, pregnant women and senior citizens – pouring onto the national highways to walk home, as they were deprived for relief in places where they were staying in self-quarantine for weeks.

"Thousands of people walking long distance to reach destination have been stranded at entry points of various district, including Kavre, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Dhading, Kapilvastu, Banke, Bardiya and Kailali due to the strict enforcement of the lockdown by the concerned local administration," the NHRC warned in a statement.

The monitoring team found a lack of coordination among the federal, provincial and local levels in distribution of relief to persons in need.

The NHRC urged the authorities to collect data from each person and family living in the local level and distribute relief and other essentials in a fair and justifiable manner.

The NHRC also called on the government to comply with article 52 of the Constitution and article 12 (2) and (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nepal is a party.

"We call on the authorities to ensure that citizens, especially differently-abled persons, senior citizens, children and the indigent, who are observing self-quarantine in their respective places, have easy access to daily essentials in the wake of the lockdown imposed by the government," the NHRC said in the statement.

The NHRC supported the government's decision to confine people to their homes in self-quarantine as a preventive measure against the spread of the deadly disease and appealed to all to respect this order for their safety and the safety of others.

Date: 17 April 2020

Source: Himalayan News Service

Image credits

  1. Entrance sign to NHRC office, Kathmandu - National Human Rights Commission of Nepal