Cross Border Crime Reduced
Story from Sunsari under Peacebuilding
Chimadi, Amahibela and Amarduwa are remote village areas situated in the southern part of Sunsari district. There is poor access to transport or amenities, like electricity or communication. People living here are generally very poor and from marginalised groups like Dalits (low caste), Janajatis and Madhesis (enthic minorities) and their lives are very difficult. These villages are very close to the Indian border, and this area has been greatly affected by crime, with the criminals freely passing to and fro across the border. Over recent years, crime rates went up and locals have suffered many attacks in which women were raped and families robbed of what little they had; often their few livestock was lost, and thus their limited source of food was reduced still further. Due to this, they were living in fear and with little hope. Despite raising their concerns, at first no-one seemed to listen to them or want to try and help them. Often they were told: This is too sensitive an issue, because it is so close to the border with India.
UMN's Sunsari cluster made an agreement with Chandramukhi Yuba Club, a local youth club situated in Chimadi, and quickly established that fear of crime was having a massive impact on any opportunities for development, and of course particularly on the victims too. UMN's agreement was intended primarily for livelihood assistance, but without first addressing the fears and real crimes, this work was not possible. UMN's Peacebuilding Team began a programme that, while still linked to livelihoods, would seek to bring about security and peace of mind for the local community. They created independent Peace Coordination Groups in each Village Development Committee area.
Various peace and security interaction programmes were held, each with an emphasis on non-violent options for bringing about peace. Informal and formal public meetings and hearings were held, with participation of local government, police and concerned agencies. Before UMN's involvement, relationships between the community and police were very poor, with each partly blaming each other for the problems. No effective communication existed. The local community people, having met with all parties, submitted requests for peace and security measures to be implemented, through the District Administration Office. As a result, the District Administration Office and Police Administration were alerted and are working together with UMN and our partner, and better security measures have been provided in those areas. Previously, many families did not report or share all that had happened to them, fearing stigma and helplessness. Now the community understands that working together themselves, as well as working with more sympathetic local police and government officials, has enabled them to reduce crime in their area significantly. More accurate records are now held by police as to what has been and is now happening, and a significant reduction in crime can be shown. People now have much more hope. Greater opportunities exist now to work to enhance livelihoods; people say they now feel more secure. "Now we are living in peace, due to UMN's peace building program."