WASHINGTON (AFP) – The State Department has warned US citizens against travel to Nepal, saying that the Maoist Communist Party remains a danger despite having recently joined the Kathmandu government.
“The Department of State remains concerned about the security situation in Nepal and continues to urge American citizens contemplating a visit to Nepal to obtain updated security information before they travel,” the government said in a statement.
“Despite the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement by the government and Maoist insurgents and their entry into an interim government, Maoists continue to engage in violence, extortion, and abductions. Maoists freely roam the countryside and cities, sometimes openly bearing their weapons,” it said.
“Given the nature, intensity and unpredictability of disturbances, American citizens are urged to exercise special caution during times when demonstrations are announced, avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring or crowds are forming, avoid road travel and maintain a low profile,” the statement said.
The statement reiterated that the US still considers the Communist Party of Nepal a terrorist organization.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch called on the Maoist rebels to release all child soldiers from their fighting forces.
“These children should be released immediately so they can enter rehabilitation programs, get back into school and rejoin their families,” said Jo Becker, children’s advocate at Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch urged Nepal’s new Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma, to secure the Maoists’ cooperation with theand child protection agencies to allow children to return home without further delay. Bishwakarma is also a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist.
The New York-based human rights watchdog said of more than 30,000 Maoist cadres registered in the cantonment sites created under Nepal’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement, an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 are believed to be children under the age of 18.
“There’s no excuse for letting children languish in cantonment sites month after month,” Becker said.