Nepali Christians Being Overlooked in Distribution of Aid Following Earthquake
Christians in Nepal have claimed they are being overlooked in the distribution of aid following an earthquake that has devastated the entire country. Nepali Christians have long been discriminated against due to their religious identity. Many fear that recent events will continue to delay the drafting of a new constitution that will finally provide a clause for religious freedom. Something Christians both in Nepal and abroad have hoped would be completed for many years.
5/12/2015 Nepal (Christian Today) – Open Doors USA reports that Christians in Nepal are being overlooked in the distribution of aid and provision of assistance by the country’s government.
The April 25 earthquake in Nepal killed thousands of people, including 500 Christians, and thousands of Christians lost their homes and are now living in tents.
Despite several requests to government officials, Nissi Church and Alpha Church in Sindupalchok say they received no help in the removal of dead bodies, the organization reports.
The churches ended up having to hire their own cranes to remove the deceased, but with no burial grounds for Christians in the country, the community was left to figure out where to bury them.
In rural areas, many Christians are facing discrimination from their communities and Open Doors went as far as to say that they have “no hope” of receiving any relief from the government.
Members of Nissi Church and Alpha church are currently living together in tents and are receiving food aid from their family and friends in other villages, Open Doors reports.
Thirty five Christian families lost their homes in Madhevista village. Initially, nearly sixty people were living together in one tent but even though more tents have arrived, each one is holding some thirty people.
Suman Thapa, pastor of a church in Madhevista village, believes that the health of his congregation is at risk.
“We need more tents for our families. Many people living together like this is not hygienic. There is a chance of epidemics spreading,” said Thapa.
Only limited aid has reached the village so far and the people are still in need of food, clothes and proper shelter.
Christians in Nepal make up around 3 per cent of the country’s population, and they are no strangers to adversity. The lack of food, proper shelter and monetary aid are just the latest obstacles the minority group, which has experienced a long-standing lack of rights.
“There is no law as it is at the moment, in the present [interim] constitution, which can identify organizations as being Christian, Muslim or Hindu. And according to the NGO law, they are not allowed to engage in religious activities. So if Christian organizations are doing religious activities, they can be prosecuted,” said Dr Mahendra Bhattarai of the United Mission to Nepal.
According to KP Sharma Oli, of the United Marxist Leninist party, the new constitution was meant to be ready for consensus by May 29, but due to recent events, it may be delayed by up to a year.
Christian leaders believe that the new constitution will help the country transition further from the Hindu monarchy abolished six years ago, towards a secular democracy.