Habitat cancels Nepal trip with Jimmy Carter

Story highlights

  • Jimmy Carter's trip to Nepal canceled because of safety concerns
  • Nepal has faced protests and fuel shortages related to adoption of a new constitution

Atlanta (CNN)Jimmy Carter had been looking forward to build homes for the needy in Nepal. Even when he announced he had cancer in his brain, the former president said he would do all he could to make the annual trip with Habitat for Humanity International. Doctors cleared him to go, but on Thursday, Habitat canceled the project, citing safety concerns.

Nepal, which suffered a massive earthquake in April, has been reeling from shortage of fuel and other critical supplies after imports from India halted in a crisis linked to Nepal's adoption of a new constitution. Nepal blames India for the economic blockade.
India, Nepal's sole fuel supplier, denies an official blockade but says truck drivers are hesitant to cross the border for deliveries because of ongoing protests by a Nepalese ethnic group that opposes provisions of the new constitution.
    "While I am disappointed that we are unable to build in Nepal due to such uncertain circumstances, Rosalynn and I understand and support Habitat's decision," Carter said in a statement. "We will keep the people of Nepal in our prayers and ask everyone to do the same."
    The U.S. State Department also issued a travel advisory Thursday recommending travelers evaluate plans in Nepal.
    "Due to the nationwide fuel shortage, due to blockages at the border with India, many of the safety measures that would normally be relied on in an emergency situation may become unavailable," the advisory said. "These measures include air medevacs and local hospitals."
    Habitat's cancellation marks the first in three decades of work projects for the Christian charity in which volunteers, led by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, build low-cost permanent homes for people lacking decent housing. The Carters have given a week of their time every year.
    "I am saddened that we have had to cancel this year's Carter Work Project," said Jonathan Reckford, Habitat's CEO.
    He said the severity of shortages were insurmountable and Habitat felt the project would take away from precious local resources that might be needed elsewhere.
    The project was to have taken place November 1 to 6 in Chitwan, a district that lies about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.
    More than 92,000 volunteers have built, renovated and repaired 3,943 homes in 14 countries as part of the annual housing build with Habitat, based in Americus, Georgia, a few miles from Carter's hometown of Plains.
    "This has been a difficult decision, but it is the responsible thing to do," Reckford said.