Nepal: A hotline to peace

“YAPE is an important independent organization and it makes Kavre a safer place to live.” – Community member, Kavre.

It has been an incredible year for the Youth Alliance for Peace and Environment (YAPE) in Nepal. In their third year of funding from Peace Direct YAPE has made 10 interventions through the Rapid Response Fund (RRF) to ease local tensions and stop violence from escalating. Their work is crucial in a country where serious, and sometimes violent political conflict is still a regular occurrence. Two out of every five people live in poverty, and political instability is a further challenge in the lives of ordinary civilians suffering mass unemployment and strikes.

YAPE acts as a hotline for peace – easily contactable and ready to act as soon as violence threatens. The RRF ensures that YAPE can respond immediately to stop conflict at its roots and to help communities move forwards. YAPE has enabled schools to reopen after attack and allowed trade to resume after blockades. YAPE’s representative, Bhoraj,  diffused one situation where ‘scores of people could have died’ by holding mediation talks to persuade two communities to sign a written pledge to live in harmony with each other.

YAPE has earned respect for itself across society, from the poorest communities up to the police, local government and the army. Word has spread, and local communities have recognized the value of YAPE’s work and are contacting Bhoraj more and more to ask for his help in preventing conflict.

In the last year, YAPE has initiated and built upon relations with the government, Maoists and UN agencies, and formed important networks across the majority of the region. They have co-ordinated with both the government and security forces, who have depended on them to act as a third party in disputes.

Although the peace agreement was signed in 2006 the Maoists and the government continue to fight over the future of Nepal. The ten year conflict claimed over 13,000 lives and the homes of many more and the threat of a return to war hangs over the future of the country.  2010 is a crucial year for the Nepali peace process, yet the political parties have failed to meet the May deadline for creating a new constitution. The work that YAPE is doing to resolve conflict on the ground is playing an invaluable role to stop political frustrations turning to violent uprisings.

In the coming year YAPE plans to expand the RRF beyond Kavre district and into the Southern region of Terai and Bara  – a region with an estimated 128 armed groups still active. To respond to the increasing demand for their services they plan to set up a conflict hotline number in Kavre and Bara district for people to report violence from even the most remote areas. There are many challenges ahead but with YAPE’s knowledge and contacts and the flexibility granted through the RRF, they are uniquely placed to stop violence before it starts.

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