November and the Blockade Continues….

Since the 20th September when the new Constitution was announced, things have not got any easier in Nepal, as the stranglehold on trade by people near the Indian border has prevented fuel and cooking gas coming into the country. Many other supplies have also been affected and the NLT workshop is at a near standstill as leather and glue have become unavailable, and the building work on the Kathmandu office has also stopped as cement has run out. Cars and taxis wait for days in queues more than a mile long, hoping that some fuel will get through, but mostly people are walking to and from work – if work is still possible. As emergency fuel supplies are also running down, even equipment such as the water treatment plant that keeps drinking water in Kathmandu clean, may shut down presenting the real risk of water-borne disease. Cooking gas is scarce and many are having to use wood to cook with.

The situation in Kathmandu is echoed in other towns, and on the Terai a general strike has crippled business everywhere. The NLT Centre at Lalgadh is only seeing a small percentage of the usual patient loads as people are unable to travel, and our field work is also greatly affected. Fortunately, the new building project at Lalgadh has been able to continue as the building supplies were already on site before the problems began.

Very sadly, the earthquake relief efforts of many organizations have also been severely hampered by the fuel shortages, and snow in the hills will soon make further aid impossible, resulting in some people being very vulnerable in the colder conditions coming soon.

Nepalis are blaming the Indian government, which they believe is supporting the blockade, and so relationships are rather cool at the moment. On the other hand, relationships with China have been improving and China is trying to help by bringing fuel into Nepal from Tibet. The logistics of this are challenging, but some fuel has already made it into Nepal and more may follow. This may change the dynamics of the blockade as India sees its monopoly on some supplies potentially threatened.

Please pray that calm, and normal trade and business activity, can be restored to this troubled country and that the needs of the vulnerable, of whom there are so many in Nepal, will somehow be met.