Country Highlight: Nepal

Temporary Protected Status holders increasingly fear they will not be permitted to remain in the United States. Within the last year the Trump administration has terminated TPS for four out of the 10 designated countries.  This week TPS for El Salvador was terminated, impacting over 260,000 people who have lived in the U.S. for over 17 years. TPS holders and supporters continue to press for a permanent, legislative solution. In support of this effort we continue our series on TPS; this week with a profile of Nepal.

Nepal began receiving TPS in 2015, shortly after the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the country. The earthquake left roughly 9,000 dead, 20,000 injured, over 10,000 displaced, and destroyed 824,000 homes. Though two years have passed since the earthquake, over 2.8 million Nepalese remain in need of humanitarian aid.

The government is seen as largely ineffective in implementing reconstructive efforts or distributing aid due to political instability and infighting. In late 2016, the government attempted to implement the new 2015 Constitution, which ensued in months of violent protests and opposition throughout the country, halting reconstruction efforts.

The political infighting led to delays in establishing or legitimizing an earthquake recovery authority. Without any government authority heading the reconstruction, the majority of victims of the earthquake were forced to spend two monsoons and two winters in makeshift shelters.

Finally, the Reconstruction Authority was created eight months after the earthquake. It estimates that USD$9 billion is needed to complete all the necessary reconstruction in the country. The international community raised USD$4.1 billion to aid Nepal; however, as of April 2017, only 12% of the aid money has been distributed, indicating the ineffectiveness of the agency.

Major criticisms from the international community of the Reconstruction Authority included that it lacks coordination between donors and the governments, possesses a limited understanding of local concerns, and has a dearth of civil engagement. This leaves many organizations attempting to directly give aid to local communities and avoid government involvement.

As with many natural disasters, the earthquake affected the disadvantaged and poor the most. Rural communities in particular have been hard to access and have thus far received little assistance for emergency housing and relief. Of those whom have received government compensation disbursements to rebuild their homes, they face shortages of water, raw materials, inspectors, and engineers needed to rebuild, consequently halting the already slow reconstruction.

The government faces complaints from Nepalese over a lack of transparency and information provided to the public about the time constraints to receive compensation disbursements, and knowledge regarding where and how to receive aid. Although, some believe that there is hope to enact positive governmental change in the elections scheduled for May 2018.

Currently, there are 8,950 Nepalese living in the United States under TPS. This is not an undue hardship to America, and it is clear that the Nepalese government is not capable of adequately handling the return of these citizens.

Please continue to call your legislators and urge them to support legislation that extends TPS and also creates a pathway to permanent residence. See more on legislative options here.

Part VIII of a series on TPS

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