12.03.2008 Asia

£7 million for peace and human rights in Nepal

By Sarah Thoms
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The UK government today announced £7 million ($14m) to support Nepal's first democratic elections in over 50 years. The money will also be used to strengthen the peace process and to improve human rights for the Nepali population.

(UK) International Development Minister, Shahid Malik, said:

"Peace and development go hand in hand. Peace is needed for development to succeed and development is needed for peace to last.

"I discussed the peace process with Prime Minister Koirala and Maoist leaders last year and I am pleased that recent agreements made by the Government with excluded groups, in particular the Madhesis in southern Nepal, have paved the way for elections on 10th April. The people of Nepal have waited more than half a century for these elections, their chance to decide on a new constitution.

"The UK is providing a further £7 million in support of the elections and for other key areas of the peace process, as well as efforts to improve human rights and ensure those who committed human rights abuses in the past are brought to justice."

The money will go to the Nepal Peace Trust Fund, the UN Peace Fund and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The UK's funding will enable the Nepal Peace Fund to implement essential aspects of the peace agreement, such as improving public security and supporting displaced persons.

The Nepal Peace Fund has already helped to house more than 30,000 Maoists, providing shelter, water, power and upkeep as part of the ongoing peace arrangements. The UK's assistance will also allow important work by the UN Peace Fund such as the clearing of land-mines left over from the conflict, to continue.

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