During the civil war in Nepal, many people lost almost everything they owned. In addition to the emotional trauma of war, there was an enormous financial cost. Homes and possessions were stolen or destroyed. Communities lost machinery and factories, and the jobs that went with them. Women lost male relatives who supported them.
After the war, the government promised to compensate victims of the conflict so that they could rebuild their lives and livelihoods. And victims can gain more than just money through compensation. Their children may be given preferential access to scholarships for high school and university places, which increases their chances of greater prosperity in later life.
One conflict victim who was entitled to compensation is Mrs Yek, who was left to bring up her three young children alone after her husband was killed in the war. She had to move in with her brother, who supported her financially.
However, like much of the population, especially in rural communities, Mrs Yek didn’t even know about the compensation scheme. Thanks to high levels of illiteracy, and poor access to radio and TV, many people struggle to find out what state services they are entitled to.
In situations like these, our peacebuilding partner YAPE provides an invaluable service. First, they go out into the communities to tell people about the compensation scheme. Then they help fill in application forms, including evidence of loss. YAPE’s record keeping of loss of property, human rights abuse, death and injury during the war is so impressive that they are often the first organisation approached by police and government officials trying to verify claims. Finally, as a well-respected organisation with good connections to government officials, YAPE can apply the necessary pressure for applications to be approved.
At first the government refused to process Mrs Yek’s case, as the Maoists had not been involved in her husband’s death. Thanks to YAPE’s advice, help with documentation, and pressure applied to the relevant government department, Mrs Yek eventually received over 300,000 rupees, the full compensation available. Equal to more than £2100, this is a substantial sum in a country where the average annual wage is worth around £125.
John Bainbridge, Peace Direct’s Asia Programmes Officer, returned from a field visit to Nepal in late June. He had this to say about YAPE:
YAPE also put Mrs Yek in touch with a charity which provided scholarships for her children, and referred her for counselling, to help deal with her post-traumatic disorder . Her children are now all back in school, and she is well on the road to recovery.
Compensation is important to conflict victims not just for the money they receive. Gaining recognition for the suffering that has taken place is an important part of the process of rehabilitation both for individuals, and for the country as a whole.
By supporting Peace Direct you could enable YAPE to help more victims of conflict receive the compensation they’re entitled to – giving them a helping hand while they rebuild their lives after civil war. Make a donation today.