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Nepal's Landmine Victims Struggle For Government Compensation

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Tulasi Pariyar was 8-years-old when she ran into a minefield to rescue a goat. Tulasi lost a leg in the accident and her family had to use all of their savings to pay for her recovery. "Sometimes my brother and mother say 'because of you we are in this condition. Otherwise we would have built a house.' When they say that, I wish I had just died," the now 10-year-old tells Al Jazeera.

While Nepal was declared 'free of landmine fields' in June 2011, activists tell Al Jazeera that the government has done little to support mine victims. In addition, stray explosives used by Maoists and other armed groups are still left unattended and could potentially hurt many more, the network discovered.

Landmines were planted across Nepal during the decade-long conflict between the Himalayan nation's government and Maoist rebels. In 2006, both sides reached a peace deal that stipulated, among other things, that they would clear the mines each had planted.

According to The Guardian, soldiers started clearing mine fields in 2007 and since then, the army has emptied 170 of the 275 fields where bombs were planted. While there is no record of the rebels cleaning up, the newspaper writes, the UN destroyed about 53,000 bombs that were turned in by the rebels after the peace deal was signed.

Since the end of the conflict in 2006, the BBC reports that mines have left nearly 400 Nepalis injured and 78 people dead.

The Nepali government has been allocating compensation to landmine victims -- a one-time payment of $150 to $1,500, depending on the severity of the victim’s condition. Yet mine victims told the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) that the sum barely suffices to pay their medical bills. “What about after that? How do they continue supporting their families who depended on their breadwinner who is now crippled for life?” Bhagwati Gautam, who lost her leg to a mine in 2002, asked IRIN News.

Al Jazeera found that while landmine victims like Tulasi are formally entitled to compensation, it helps to have political connections in order to actually receive the funds. "If they have some political links, if they have someone to support them, to help them at the district headquarters level this process will be facilitated," Shaligram Sharma of the Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation told the network.

Around the Web

IRIN Asia | NEPAL: Landmine victims need more help | Nepal ...

Nepal's landmine victims left in lurch - Asia - Al Jazeera English

No help for Nepal's landmine victims - YouTube