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Sat Nov 01 08:03:00 SAST 2014

Nepalese woman aged 105 finally granted citizenship

Sapa-AFP | 05 December, 2012 13:53
Pakhapani, Parbat in Nepal.
Image by: Hégésippe Cormier aka Hégésippe

A pensioner has been granted Nepalese citizenship more than a century after she was born in a remote village of the Himalayan nation, an official said Wednesday.

Krishna Kumari Gharti, a 105-year-old widow who lives in Pakhapani village in the mountainous district of Parbat, one day's walk from the nearest road, was among a group of residents to be given identity cards for the first time.

"Our officials travelled to the village after hearing complaints that many were deprived of citizenship," Tek Bahadur KC, district administrative officer told AFP by telephone.

"Her name was registered in our list of elderly who were receiving the monthly allowance. So we granted her the citizenship card. She was very happy," he said.

"Most of these people living in the villages generally don't venture out of the place. They are also hardly involved in any businesses. That's why they spend their lives without citizenship."

When Gharti was born, Nepal was largely closed to the outside world and maintained a subsistence economy under the autocratic Rana dynasty of hereditary prime ministers.

Although it modernised over the 20th Century, Nepal's rugged topography and lack of roads mean it is still difficult for villagers in isolated districts to visit local government offices to obtain citizenship cards.

According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, 800 000 people in Nepal are "stateless persons" without the rights and benefits of Nepalese citizens, although the government disputes this figure.

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