Island nations seek UN help to combat climate change
Source: Agence France-Presse
Country: Kiribati, Vanuatu, World
Small Island Developing States have one plea: assistance to help them avoid becoming washed away in the rising tides and powerful storms caused by global warming.
United Nations, United States | AFP | Friday 7/31/2015 - 01:40 GMT | 723 words
by André VIOLLAZ
More than a dozen small island nations made an urgent appeal to the UN Security Council Thursday for help in combatting climate change, which they said poses a threat to their very existence.
The Council -- more typically a forum for heated debates on the plight of refugees in Syria or efforts to stem the war in Ukraine -- heard pleas from ministers and ambassadors of diminutive nations like Fiji, Samoa and Caribbean countries like St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The group -- dubbed the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) -- represent the farthest-flung reaches of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
But it had one singular plea -- financial and technical assistance to help them avoid becoming washed away in the rising tides and powerful storms caused by global warming.
The president of the Republic of Kiribati, Anote Tong, said the plight of smaller islands for too long has been at the bottom of the list of priorities of the United Nations and other global organizations.
He expressed hope that Thursday's concerted appeal by the SIDS nations would help change that.
"Can we as leaders return today to our people and be confident enough to say ... that no matter how high the sea rises, no matter how severe the storms get, there are credible technical solutions to raise your islands and your homes and the necessary resources are available to ensure that all will be in place before it is too late?" Tong asked the Council.
The island nations raised a raft of other security related issues, including piracy on the high seas, but focused largely on dangers posed by global warming.
Tong's tiny nation of about 100,000 people has been acutely affected by climate change.
Kiribati consists of about 30 atolls, most of which sit just several feet (a few meters) above sea level.
The low-lying nation suffers from a range of environmental problems linked to climate change, from storm surges to flooding to water contamination.
The situation is so dire that the government is mulling the idea of relocating the entire population, amid fears that Kiribati one day in the not too distant future may find itself completely underwater.
Others at the meeting pointed to the example of Vanuatu, which was largely flattened in March by Cyclone Pam -- the worst natural disaster ever to hit the South Pacific Ocean nation.
According to a United Nations World Risk Report published last year, Vanuatu, still recovering from the devastating storm of just four months ago, is the country at greatest risk of experiencing natural disasters due to climate change -- including severe cyclones and extremes of drought and flood.
The SIDS nations said they have made appeals in the past -- mostly in vain -- for global powers to address the unique and acute impact they fact from climate change.
The difference now, they said, is that New Zealand -- which has long been sympathetic to the plight of smaller island nations -- currently wields the gavel in the rotating presidency of the 15-member Security Council.
"New Zealand's use of its tenure as president of the UNSC to highlight SIDS is of particular importance given the council's historical indifference or antipathy to Small Island States and our peace and security challenges," said Camillo Gonsalves, foreign minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Until now, Gonsalves said "small island states, our issues and perspectives, have been, by and large, excluded from serious and sustained consideration by the Security Council."
The United Nations has given 52 nations or territories -- encompassing a population of some 50 million people -- the designation of small island developing states. Of those, 37 are UN members.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seemed receptive to the message from the small island nations.
He said their plight needs to be on the agenda at 46-nation climate change talks to be held in Paris in December.
"We need a meaningful and universal and global climate agreement in Paris in December," Ban told the gathering.
"The issues facing SIDS are global challenges. They are our collective responsibility," he said.
"But Small Island Developing States do not have the resources to combat such threats by themselves," the UN leader said.
"Only through global partnership can we secure their sustainable and peaceful future."
© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse
Nigeria names head of regional force to fight Boko Haram
Source: Agence France-Presse
Country: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria
The new multinational task force, created to fight the jihadists in the face of a surge of devastating attacks, will be made up of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin.
Maiduguri, Nigeria | AFP | Friday 7/31/2015 - 02:28 GMT
by Ola Awoniyi
Nigeria on Thursday named the head of a new multinational force created to fight Boko Haram jihadists carrying out a wave of attacks, as the country's outgoing defence chief of staff warned its military was underfunded and poorly equipped.
The announcement came as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was in Cameroon in a bid to forge a stronger regional alliance against the Islamists, while the Nigerian military said it had rescued dozens of people held hostage by the militant group.
Abuja on Thursday said Major General Iliya Abbah, who previously commanded military operations in the oil-rich Niger Delta, will head the five-nation Multi-National Joint Task Force.
The force, made up of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, is expected to be more effective than a current alliance in the battle to end Boko Haram's six-year insurgency, which has claimed some 15,000 lives.
It is expected to go into action within days, with Buhari saying during his visit to Cameroon that it would be ready "by the end of this month".
In a joint statement after their talks in Yaounde, Buhari and Cameroon's President Paul Biya expressed "their common determination to eradicate Boko Haram... and agreed to intensify the exchange of information between the two countries".
They will also beef up security along their shared border, the statement added.
The regional task force will be headquartered in Chad's capital N'Djamena, but few other specific details have emerged, raising concerns that its deployment may face delays.
Abbah, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, previously served as the army's military secretary, where he was responsible for promotions, postings and retirements, and was also part of Nigeria's contingent to peacekeeping operations in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region.
Despite the creation of the multinational force, Nigeria's outgoing chief of defence staff warned on Thursday that the country's military "lacked the relevant equipment and motivation to fight an enemy that was invisible and embedded with the local populace".
In a speech to mark his retirement after he was sacked by Buhari this month, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh said Nigeria's forces were "neglected and underequipped to ensure the survival of certain regimes, while other regimes, based on advice from some foreign nations, deliberately reduced the size of the military and underfunded it".
He did not elaborate on which regimes or foreign countries he was referring to.
Buhari dismissed Badeh and the entire military top brass who served under his predecessor as president Goodluck Jonathan in a demonstration of the newly-elected leader's quest for a fresh start in the battle against Boko Haram.
The Nigerian president, in his remarks in Cameroon, also complained of a lack of resources, saying: "After the promises of G7 countries to help the region defeat Boko Haram, we are waiting for training, equipment and intelligence assistance."
Buhari visited Washington last week but returned empty-handed because the United States is prohibited by law from sending weapons to countries that fail to tackle human rights abuses, a stance the Nigerian leader said was helping Boko Haram.
Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks since Buhari took office in May, unleashing a wave of violence that has claimed more than 800 lives in just two months.
In another gruesome attack reported Thursday, Boko Haram militants slit the throats of 10 fishermen in villages on the shores of Lake Chad in northeastern Nigeria on Monday, a fisherman and a resident told AFP.
- Buhari's regional diplomacy -
The extremist group, whose name loosely translates as "Western education is forbidden", launched their armed insurgency in 2009 and claim to want to found a strict Islamic caliphate in and around northeastern Nigeria.
Since taking office, Buhari has also visited Chad and Niger, which have also suffered from attacks by the Islamist fighters and sent troops to take part in operations.
Buhari is expected to visit Benin, a small country on Nigeria's western border, on Saturday after his return from Cameroon.
Nigeria's army, meanwhile, said it had rescued 59 people held hostage by Boko Haram in the country's restive northeast, including 29 women and 25 children.
Mallam Modu Goni, one of the hostages rescued, said a large number of militants had abducted him and several fellow villagers last week, and that he was forced to go "several days without food before the army rescued us yesterday".
Earlier this week, the army said it had freed 30 other hostages, including 21 children.
Boko Haram has abducted thousands of civilians, including children, in raids on villages and towns inside Nigeria and abroad. Non-Muslims are forcibly converted to Islam.
The movement has also forced young teenage girls and women to become suicide bombers.
In the past eight days alone, such bombers have killed at least 47 people in attacks at crowded places, including a market and a popular bar, in towns in both Nigeria and Cameroon.
© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse
Tanzania: 130,000 refugees vaccinated against cholera in Nyarugusu camp
Source: Médecins Sans Frontières
Country: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Republic of Tanzania
A cholera vaccination campaign to protect Burundian and Congolese refugees in the overcrowded camp has been completed by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) this week.
Kigoma/Geneva – A cholera vaccination campaign to protect Burundian and Congolese refugees in the overflowing Nyarugusu camp in Tanzania has been completed by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) this week. However, with people still living in very precarious conditions, there is a parallel urgent need to improve the sanitary situation in the camp.
The second round of the campaign, in response to an outbreak that occurred among the refugees in May this year, was completed on Monday 27 July. More than 130,000 refugees were vaccinated in this round. The oral cholera vaccine, which must be administered in two doses, offers a high level of protection against the disease. However vaccination should be carried out together with other prevention and control measures, which are severely lacking today in the camp.
"Vaccination is an urgent and essential response, not only to prevent lives being lost, but to reduce the risk of new epidemics, sanitary conditions in the camp must be rapidly improved," says Sita Cacioppe, Emergency Coordinator for MSF.
The vaccination campaign was conducted in collaboration with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In the first round in June, 107,000 people – equivalent to 92 percent of the population at the time - received a first dose of the vaccine. But insecurity around the elections in Burundi continues to push thousands of people across the Tanzanian border, and since the first round of vaccination, around 20,000 more people have been transported to the camp according to the UNHCR. A catch-up round will soon be organized to give a second dose to the newcomers whose overall vaccination status is unclear.
The number of people living in Nyarugusu has more than doubled in three months, with political unrest and violence in Burundi driving some 82,000 Burundians to cross the Tanzanian border and join the 64,000 Congolese who have been living in the camp for nearly twenty years. This rapid influx of refugees has overwhelmed all services and humanitarian organizations are still struggling to provide enough water, food and shelter.
"People are living in dusty overcrowded conditions; they endure cold nights and have to queue for hours for water. Although malaria is the main condition we treat, we also see also see a high number of respiratory infections and diarrhoea related to the poor sanitary situation," Cacioppe continues. “Such precarious living conditions give rise to the potential risk of epidemics. And with the rainy season coming, the situation may deteriorate even further, as many tents have been built in flood-prone areas.”
Alongside its medical activities, MSF has set up a system for pumping and treating water and each day is distributing more than 280,000 litres in five locations in the camp. But gaps remain in terms of sanitation. "We keep explaining to families the need to wash hands with soap to protect against disease, but some have not received a single bar since their arrival. We expect to carry out a distribution, but we need other organisations to step up to help us improve this situation so we can focus on the medical needs," concludes Cacioppe.
MSF, present in the camp since May, is working in collaboration with the Tanzanian Red Cross in two clinics. Teams have recently increased the capacity of the Intensive Therapeutic Feeding Centre to support severely malnourished children who were screened during the vaccination campaign. All children under five were systematically screened in the twenty vaccination sites.
Botswana tackles worst drought in 30 years
Source: Agence France-Presse
Botswana has allocated emergency funds in response to the worst drought conditions in 30 years with agricultural land badly hit by the lack of irrigation, the government said.
Gaborone, Botswana | AFP | Thursday 7/30/2015 - 15:52 GMT
Botswana has allocated emergency funds in response to the worst drought conditions in 30 years with agricultural land badly hit by the lack of irrigation, the government said Thursday.
A special budget of about $44 million (40 million euros) was passed by parliament on Wednesday after President Ian Khama declared a general countrywide drought, the first since 1984.
"In general it is a bad year. That is why we can not categorise the drought by each village and town like we have in the past," deputy agriculture minister Fidelis Molao told AFP.
The relief funds will be used to support livestock farmers, who have been encouraged to reduce their animal numbers due to lack of grassland.
New vehicles will also be bought to help fight bush fires, as well as more cash provided for urgent irrigation projects and extra meals for children suffering malnutrition.
A sharp decline in rainfall and a heatwave has caused a dramatic 70 percent drop in land under cultivation.
Molao said that Botswana, one of Africa's most stable countries and home to a profitable diamond mining industry, should be able to cope with the drought using its own resources.
The country last suffered drought in 2013, but the impact then was not as widespread.
Domestic food production has gone down in almost every country in the southern African region due to floods and droughts over the past growing season which ended in the first quarter of the year.
Millions of people are expected to face food shortages by year end and will require food aid in some of the worst affected countries including Malawi, Zimbabwe as well as Botswana.
© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse
Pakistan floods expose response gaps
As Pakistan faces its fourth consecutive year of heavy flooding, relief workers are urging the government to do more to ensure inevitable future inundations do less harm. At least 86 people have died and more than 500,000 have been affected over the past week.
By Kamila Hyat
ISLAMABAD, 30 July 2015 (IRIN) - As Pakistan faces its fourth consecutive year of heavy flooding, relief workers are urging the government to do more to ensure inevitable future inundations do less harm.
The government says at least 86 people have died and more than 500,000 people been affected as rivers swelled with monsoon rains and glacial melt, and floodwaters engulfed various parts of the country over the past week.
Sabina Durrani of the National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Network said Wednesday that disease had begun to strike in the aftermath of flood, with hundreds of cases of diarrhoea, dengue fever and skin and eye infections being reported in all affected areas.
Previous floods have been much worse: in 2010, 20 percent of the country was underwater, displacing more than 20 million people and killing around 2,000. Pakistan's Meteorological Department is warning of further flooding, and the UK-based aid group Plan International has said that could cause another humanitarian disaster.
Scientists are increasingly drawing links between climate change and natural disasters including the 2010 floods, according to Germanwatch, a think tank that ranked Pakistan the tenth most vulnerable country to climate change in its Global Climate Risk Index 2015.
Pakistan has signed onto the Hyogo Framework, which aims to better equip countries and communities to deal with disasters, and the government in 2013 approved a National Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Policy. Under that policy, funding for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was increased from PKR 93 million (about USD 907,000) in the 2011/2012 fiscal year to PKR 169 million in 2014/2015, according to Hyogo Framework progress report released in April.
Following floods last year, “efforts were made to build resilient infrastructure which could sustain future disasters”, according to the report.
The report also mentions initiatives to strengthen weather surveillance radar and create a satellite based flood alert system, and it says that the NDMA is undergoing a structural reorganization to strengthen its capacity.
Yet, experts say the current floods show that the government is not working fast and efficiently enough.
“These disasters are exposing its weaknesses and the fact that they are unable to meet the challenges that climate change is likely to throw upon us,” said Tahir Mehdi, a researcher with Lok Sujag, a Lahore-based nongovernmental organization that focuses on governance.
For example, the country’s century-old water management system will continue to be overwhelmed during heavy rains until the government invests in an overhaul, he said.
The problem is not only one of allocating funding; it also has to do with Pakistan’s inability to implement policies efficiently at different levels of government.
“So far the government is tackling disasters, especially floods, with a reactive approach: when floods occur, they start their operations,” said Gauhar Iqbal, a spokesman for Plan International. “There is a need to take DRR as a developmental issue and to institutionalize it and adopt proactive approach by building the capacity of institutions of and communities.” (See box).
Ten things to do before a flood
There’s no way to prevent the heavy rains or glacial melt that lead to floods. And when preventing these events from causing inundations is possible, it often involves major infrastructural projects. But there is much that can be done at the local level to reduce the harm caused when floods do occur.
Here’s a selection, drawn from a recent risk assessment report carried out on the Kashmore district of Pakistan’s southwestern Sindh province.
Continually maintain and reinforce bunds
Pave key road links
Encourage farmers to insure livestock
Maintain emergency stocks of fodder
Clean sewers before each monsoon season
Restrict dumping of solid waste into rivers
Train community leaders to deliver early warning messages
Identify safe sites for poor people living in flood-prone areas
Encourage school enrolment to increase literacy and disaster awareness
Step up first aid training
Source: Alhasan Systems
Afia Salam, a Karachi-based environmental activist, said the poor response to the floods "indicates a severe crisis of management and governance”.
Ahmed Kamal of the NMDA admitted that there is a need for “better inter-agency coordination”, but he defended the agency’s response.
"The forecasts were as expected,” Kamal told IRIN. “Our rescue efforts began fast.”
Despite the government’s response, flooding has caused mass destruction in the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Giljit Baltistan, as well as the state of Azad Kashmir and Jammu.
The worst hit area has been Chitral, a mountainous district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where flash floods washed away more than 28 villages, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Much of Chitral is now inaccessible, as roads and bridges have been destroyed along with crops, drinking water systems and communications infrastructure.
“I simply do not know what the situation of my family in our village in Chitral is right now,” said Nadir Ali, a Chitrali who is based in Karachi.
“I cannot even get through on the telephone. The communication system seems to be down,” he said.
EU increases humanitarian aid for Burundi refugees
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid department
Country: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania
The aid released mainly for Burundi refugees amounts to €9 million since the end of April, when their numbers started growing. Certain refugee camps have become overpopulated and health risks have continuously worsened.
Brussels, 30 July 2015
The European Commission is releasing €4.5 million in humanitarian assistance to help the increasing number of refugees from Burundi that have fled to neighbouring countries. More than 175 000 people, the majority of them women and children, are estimated to have already left the country. "We cannot overlook the deteriorating humanitarian situation affecting Burundi. Refugee numbers are up in the last three monthswhich is a serious cause of concern in an already fragile region. This additional EU humanitarian funding will help neighbouring countries accommodate refugees and meet their most urgent needs. It is a strong signal of the EU's solidarity with the most vulnerable people caught in a difficult situation beyond their control," said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, underlining "the generous hospitality of the countries in the region who have welcomed their Burundian neighbours."
This funding increase brings the total humanitarian aid for the Great Lakes region for 2015 to €56.5 million. The aid released mainly for Burundi refugees amounts to €9 million since the end of April, when their numbers started growing. Certain refugee camps have become overpopulated and health risks have continuously worsened.
Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda have been experiencing flows of refugees from Burundi since April. Those arriving cite intimidation, threats and fear of violence as reasons for leaving the country.
Tanzania is so far the main hosting country with nearly 80 000 Burundi refugees having arrived, followed by Rwanda (71,158), the Democratic Republic of Congo (13,368), and Uganda (11,165).
The most urgent humanitarian needs to address are shelter, water and sanitation, as well as health assistance to stop the possible surge of diseases and epidemics, notably cholera. A key concern ahead of the rainy season is the overpopulation of certain refugee camps.
Following the announcement on 25 April 2015 that President Pierre Nkurunziza would seek a third mandate, provoking serious political division, Burundi has undergone a sustained political and security crisis - this crisis brought with it a surge in the number of refugees.
Anouk Delafortrie, Regional Information Officer, European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO): +254 722 791 604, email@example.com
For more information
The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm
Thousands evacuated as cyclone set to hit Bangladesh
Source: Agence France-Presse
Some 60,000 people have been evacuated from coastal villages in the southern resort district of Cox's Bazar following concerns of high waves, a senior local official told AFP.
Dhaka, Bangladesh | AFP | Thursday 7/30/2015 - 09:37 GMT
A cyclone set to hit the Bangladesh coast later Thursday has already killed three people and forced the evacuation of thousands from mainly poor fishing communities, police and other officials said.
Cyclone Komen, forming in the Bay of Bengal, has destroyed dozens of makeshift homes on Bangladesh's southernmost point of Saint Martin's island as it moves towards the coast, local police chief Ataur Rahman said.
"At least 150 houses of local fishermen were reportedly destroyed due to the storm," he said.
Three men were killed in separate incidents when trees fell onto their tin houses, Rahman said.
The storm, currently southeast of the city of Chittagong, was packing winds of only about 54 kilometres (33 miles) an hour and was expected to lose strength after making land, meteorologist Abdur Rahman said.
"The storm is slowly moving northwest and likely to hit the southern coast in the afternoon," he said.
Some 60,000 people have been evacuated from coastal villages in the southern resort district of Cox's Bazar following concerns of high waves, senior local official Anupam Saha told AFP.
"We have evacuated more than 60,000 people from the coastal fishermen's villages and sent them to cyclone centres," he said.
Some of the deadliest storms in history have formed in the Bay of Bengal, including one in 1970 that killed hundreds of thousands of people in modern-day Bangladesh.
In 2013, one million people were forced to flee their homes when Cyclone Phailin hit India's southeast coast.
© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse
Number of South Sudanese refugees exceeds response planning figure of 196,000
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: South Sudan, Sudan
Aid agencies have not had sufficient time to scale-up services and facilities in camps to absorb the influx while maintaining emergency standards.
• WHO has secured funding for emergency response missions and the establishment of 10 temporary emergency clinics in areas at risk of cholera.
• The number of new South Sudanese refugees in Sudan has exceeded the response planning figure of 196,000.
• An estimated 3,350 people in Mellit town, North Darfur, are in need of assistance.
• Some 780 families have been affected by heavy rains and floods in Kalma camp, South Darfur.
• People affected by inter-tribal conflict in Abu Karinka and Al Gidamia towns, East Darfur, receive assistance.
Water, food, non-food items urgently needed for about 1,500 affected people in Tajikistan
Source: UN Country Team in Tajikistan
As a result of snow melting due to high temperatures, the whole district of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast is affected by floods and mudflow.
As a result of snow melting due to high temperatures all the district of GBAO are affected by the mudflow;
6 people were killed and more than 100 households (78 fully and 22 partially) destroyed as a result of mudflow in GBAO;
An artificial lake created in Gund river increased to 20 cm as of July 27, 2015;
Affected population are relocated to the tent camp in Shugnan District;
Government has allocated land for construction of the houses for 83 affected families in Shugnan District.
Water, food and non-food items are among the highest priority needs for about 1,500 affected people.
Reaching out to survivors of violence in post-earthquake Nepal
Source: UN Women
There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of sexual and domestic violence against women survivors since the earthquake. Humanitarian actors try to help the traumatized women.
Rajani BK*, 26, was sitting in front of her house when her father came home early in the morning and started verbally abusing her mother, who was getting ready to go to work. "He was drunk, angry and started threatening to kill my mother," says BK. She tried to intervene, and was dragged near a wall, and thought she was going to die. This was not the first time BK felt physically threatened by her father. She doesn't remember a time when he was not abusive.
BK hasn't been able to sleep properly since the 25 April 7.8-magnitude earthquake and 12 May 7.3-magnitude aftershock that devastated Nepal. Her house was destroyed, but she couldn't even live in the temporary tent that was set up by her family because she feared her father would assault her. "If we had a house, I would know where to hide to stay away from my father, but in a tent, I didn't feel secure enough," says BK.
BK belongs to the marginalized Dalit community, which represents 13 per cent of Nepal's total population of 28 million, according to Nepal's 2011 census. Dalits are one of the poorest communities in the country, with 42 per cent under the poverty line, as opposed to 23 per cent of non-Dalits.
The 2014 Report of the UN Secretary-General on gender equality in natural disasters underlines the likelihood of rape and sexual violence rising during natural disasters.
Prema Poudel is in charge of the Kabhre multipurpose women's centre set up by the Women's Rehabilitation Centre, with support from UN Women and in coordination with Nepal Government's Women and Children Office in Kabhre as part of humanitarian response to the recent disasters. The multipurpose women's centre provides dignity kits, solar lamps, trauma counselling, information, referrals, carries out women's safety audits and facilitates early recovery and livelihood activities. Ms. Poudel says there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of sexual and domestic violence against women survivors since the earthquake.
"Most women are living in tents where it is not safe, and women are the easy targets," says Ms. Poudel. There are no official numbers available yet but social mobilizers and first responders also confirmed this rise in numbers.
Ashmita Tamang, district psychosocial counsellor with Nepal-based Centre for Victims of Torture reiterates that the number of domestic and sexual violence cases she has dealt with have increased. Social mobilizers in the multipurpose women's centre have been spreading the word about the centre in their visits and they have also sought help from local newspapers to inform women about services offered. "Many women come to us out of curiosity and also to collect dignity kits, but we make it a point to talk to them to understand the big picture," says Ms. Tamang.
After years of abuse, last month BK couldn't take it anymore and she ran away to the centre in Kabhre, some 50 kilometres east of the capital Kathmandu.
There Srijana Pyakurel, psychosocial first aid worker and her team mobilized other women leaders of the community, brought BK to a safe house run by the Women and Children's Office and filed a police complaint at a local station to bring BK's father to prison.
According to Ms. Pyakurel, BK was experiencing double trauma: the feeling of helplessness and homelessness since the earthquake and having been abused by her father almost all of her life.
Now calm in the safe house, BK says that what has helped her most is the care of the professionals trained in psychosocial aid with whom she can talk to about her trauma.
Even though she continues to receive threats from her father's friends in the community, BK has found her voice and strength. She wants to go back to her village and help other women in her community. "I never finished school, I want to figure out a way to go back home and help women who are in my position, tell them that they're not alone and that help is there if they need it."
** Name changed to protect identity.*