Nepal is among the 20 most natural disaster-prone countries in the world. The risk from an impending earthquake looms high; accelerated glacial melts in the Himalayas due to climate change risk flooding low-lying areas. Floods, landslides and avalanches are common affecting thousands of people every year.
An estimated 44,000 Bhutanese refugees live in camps in Nepal. The refugees are not allowed to work and are almost entirely dependent on international humanitarian assistance. Over 107,000 Bhutanese arrived in Nepal in the 1990's, many of whom have since been resettled in third countries.
The political uncertainty following the 10-year Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006 continues; the Constitutional Assembly elected in 2008 has been dissolved without adopting a constitution. The prevailing situation has led to strikes and blockades negatively impacting the livelihoods of many people.
A significant part of the European Commission's humanitarian assistance to Nepal goes towards helping communities resist, withstand and cope against natural disasters like floods and landslides through the creation of community based rescue mechanisms, disaster-resilient infrastructure, early warning systems and flood management. The funding is also helping enhance the capacity of the medical community to cope with mass casualty situations that could be provoked by an earthquake through retro-fitting of hospitals in Kathmandu and stockpiling of fuels and surgical kits. Since 2001, the Commission has provided almost € 12 million for disaster-preparedness efforts in Nepal.
The European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has been supporting the Bhutanese refugees with food assistance for over 10 years. For 2013, it has allocated a further € 1 million to provide food rations to the most vulnerable refugees including children, pregnant women and chronically-ill persons.
During the 10-year civil war that ended in 2006, ECHO funded the provision of healthcare, water and sanitation facilities for conflict-affected people living in rural areas.