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New trick was devised to supply Belgian arms to Nepal

Eric WEERTS, Belgian Physical Therapist

This is my first visit to the Kingdom of Nepal. I am in effect excited to see the mighty Himalayas and to see the loving people of this country.

I have heard so many good things about this country but have had not an opportunity to see this country.

The basic job that has brought here is to attend an international conference that is scheduled from the 8th to 10 November this week.

The conference is being attended by a host of countries of the globe including the United Kingdom, United States of America, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Switzerland and of course some participants from Nepal, the organizer of this conference.

This seminar is related with Spinal Cord Injury Care.

I am a Belgian currently serving in Vietnam. It is a non-governmental organization wherein I work in Vietnam and supporting the Vietnamese as and when spinal cord injuries occur in the country.

During the three-day conference, I will together with my colleagues share my own experiences gained in spinal cord injury while being in Vietnam.

By profession, I am a Physical therapist and working in Vietnam as a health manager in care for the spinal cord injury.

My stay in Vietnam has not been that long but nine months only. This is a project of five years wherein several experts on this subject are teachers who share their knowledge to the Vietnamese.

As regards the funding of the project wherein I work comes from two different sources. The Belgian government extends a sizeable chunk of the funding and the rest comes from the Grand Duchy of the Luxembourg.

The Kathmandu conference on Spinal Cord Injury would provide the participants to share and exchange our experiences gained in this regard, which would later be utilized in the countries where we work respectively.

I have been told that Nepal’s main source of income comes from tourism. You have high Himalayas and the highest mountain in the world.

However, we were recently told that Nepal has some security problems. The western media too highlighted this aspect. Thanks that my government in Brussels hinted that one could visit Nepal, as there was nothing to panic. So we are here.

My country is a Kingdom like yours with two chambers of the parliament. The rest is federal organizations. The government in Brussels controls the defense, justice and the foreign affairs only and the rest is under the control of the local federal structures completely independent of the Brussels administration.

We have three federal governments in the Kingdom that represent the French, the Dutch and the German speaking population. The majority is of the Dutch population which should be to the tune of five million, the French about four million and the German population is also considerable.

Interestingly, Nepal was in the limelight recently in the Belgian press. The event was, I recall, Nepali request for a heavy consignment of weapons from my country. The members in the parliament got divided and there was a heated debate in both of Belgian chambers.

The problem arose when some parliamentarians suspected the Nepal government design for importing the weaponries from our country. Well, we have a process of certification which demands proper clarification from the requesting government that such arms thus imported would in no way be used to suppress the civilian population. Later when Nepal assured the Belgian side that the arms would be used to maintain social order and provide security to the general population then and then only the arms were allowed to be exported to Nepal.

The controversy arose also for the fact that the company that wished to provide arms to Nepal belonged to the French speaking area. The Dutch were against it for the Dutch were not to be benefited by such arm sales to Nepal.

A new idea was devised for sending the arms to Nepal that satisfied all. The word “civil conflict” was changed to “local conflict” that meant that the arms were not to be used against the general population but would be utilized in containing the local conflicts in Nepal.

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