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Editorial: Wake up to the crises

Editorial: Wake up to the crises

In the far-flung districts of Jajarkot and West Rukum, the Nepali state is virtually non-existent. 

What used to be houses and sheds have turned into rubble, thanks to the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck at midnight on Nov 3, killing around 160 people (more than half of them children) in the immediate aftermath, leaving thousands injured and destroying vital physical infrastructure like school buildings and local government facilities.

Three weeks into the disaster, more deaths have occurred even as the survivors, with foodstucks, warm clothing, utensils and medicine buried under the rubble, continue to brave a cruel winter without vital supplies.

What is the ruling elite in Kathmandu doing for the survivors other than providing token relief? Rather than rushing supplies essential for sustaining life after an early ‘completion’ of the search and rescue operation, the VIPs and the VVIPs seemed interested in chopper flights to the affected areas where they made generous promises to the survivors. 

Despite those lofty promises, aid is barely trickling among the survivors. Media reports, including those published in this daily, suggest that various factors continue to affect relief distribution, particularly in far-flung areas of the affected districts. Worryingly, dirty politics is playing spoilsport, together with unwillingness on the part of representatives of relevant organizations to visit remote areas and local authorities’ undeclared policy of distributing relief only to house-owners and not to the renters.

While the post-quake scenarios at Jajarkot and West Rukum deepen fears of an evolving humanitarian disaster, a divided Center continues to act as if nothing has happened. Its immediate priority is on reining in the anarchy reigning supreme on the streets of a more or less curfewed Kathmandu where rival political forces continue to ‘display’ their strength, throwing life out of gears.  

Even in a crisis situation like this, our top political leaders continue to act like warlords instead of working together to deal with fresh crises facing a country already reeling under malgovernance, corruption, nepotism, inflation, instability and the breakdown of law and order. 

Sooner than later, the top brass should mend ways and act together to bring stability back to this trembling republic instead of fighting like the kilkenny cats if they want history to be merciful to them.