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Nepal Travel Advice Issued On 3 June 2004

Nepal Travel Advice Consular Division Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Wellington, New Zealand

Nepal Issued On 3 June 2004

This travel advice has been reissued. New Zealanders should defer tourist and non-essential travel given the ongoing security situation in Nepal.

Maoist insurgents have stepped up activities and are targeting public places and tourist areas. Tourists have been injured in recent attacks both in Kathmandu and the provinces. Maoists have warned of unspecified action against the tourist industry on 7, 8 and 9 June.

New Zealanders in Nepal should remain vigilant, maintain a very high level of personal security awareness at all times, and avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.

In August 2003, the ceasefire between Maoist insurgents and the government (in place since January 2003) came to an end. The conflict dates from 1996 and has affected most areas in the country. Since the end of August there have been a large number of casualties in insurgency related clashes throughout Nepal.

In recent months there has been a significant increase in the range and intensity of bombings and armed clashes across Nepal. In March 2004 there was a large-scale Maoist attack on Beni resulting in significant loss of life. Beni is an alternative route to the Annapurna trekking circuit and should be avoided. Attacks at Lukla airport on 23 March, on cars and buses carrying tourists over recent months, and more recently on a tourist lodge in Pokhara on 14 May confirms that Maoists are now targeting public places and tourist industry infrastructure.

The Maoist rebels are present in all districts in Nepal and the potential for further violence remains high. The Maoists have made specific threats against some business interests that include a number of larger hotels in Kathmandu. The unsettled political situation since the dissolution of parliament in 2002 has meant that the frequency and level of protest action (by both Maoist and other political groups) has increased. Periodic strikes (called bandhs) and demonstrations are now occurring with increasing regularity, particularly in Kathmandu and sometimes turn to violence.

In Kathmandu, assassination attempts on Nepalese government officials and indiscriminate bombings have resulted in the death and injury of civilians. Further bombings cannot be ruled out. New Zealanders should be aware that Maoists have targeted security forces manning cordon points around such incidents. The Nepal government is imposing, at short notice, curfews of limited duration in Kathmandu and other cities and towns. Security services have been instructed to enforce these curfews.

There have been occasions when Maoists have approached trekkers demanding money, cameras and satellite phones. Travel and trekking alone and at night should not be undertaken.

The United States government has warned its citizens of a heightened risk to American citizens and American interests in Nepal, particularly outside the Kathmandu Valley. The Maoists have issued threats against US interests and two businesses with American affiliations have been attacked.

The British current travel advisory has noted an escalation of indiscriminate attacks and advised that Maoist insurgents have warned that they will take unspecified action against the tourist industry in general (hotels, guest houses, lodges, trekking and rafting organisations).

Australia is advising its citizens not to trek in the following areas: Banke, Dang, Syangja, Surkhet, Rukum, Kalikot, Achham, Jajarkot, Rolpa, Salyan and Dolakha that are Maoist strongholds.

New Zealanders who, notwithstanding this advice, do travel to Nepal should maintain a very high level of personal security awareness at all times and closely monitor events that would affect their safety as the security situation could further deteriorate. Large public gatherings and demonstrations should be avoided. There is a risk of indiscriminate attacks in public places and tourist areas. It is advisable to depart Kathmandu for India by air – we recommend against travelling overland from Kathmandu to India.

New Zealanders travelling or resident in Nepal should have comprehensive medical and travel insurance policies that include provision for medical evacuation by air within Nepal, and for medical evacuation from Nepal. _______________________________________________________________New Zealanders in Nepal are encouraged to record their details with:

The New Zealand Consulate Dilli Bazar (P O Box 224) Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: +(977 1) 4412 436 Facsimile: + (977 1) 4414 750
Please provide the following information:

full names of individuals and accompanying dependents, New Zealand passport number(s), contact details whilst in Nepal departure dates and details, (where these are known), and contact information for a family member or friend in New Zealand.

New Zealand citizens may also register on-line (via the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi, India) at: http://www.nzembassy.com/registration.cfm?c=1021&l=1

Please note: While every care has been taken in preparing these travel advisories, neither the New Zealand Government nor its agents and employees can accept liability for any loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained therein.

ENDS

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