October 22, 2015 5:26 AM EDT

Across Nepal, food prices have climbed as a growing political dispute over a new constitution hits the flow of fuel and essential goods into the landlocked Himalayan nation, still recovering from a devastating earthquake in April. Here’s what’s behind the standoff:


Nepal is surrounded on three sides by India, the country’s main trading partner. The northern border with China cuts through the Himalayas, making it unsuitable as a trading route. The current crisis stems from unrest where the country borders India.


Ethnic minority groups concentrated near the Indian border say a new constitution passed on Sept. 16 ceded too much power to northern and Himalayan ruling classes. Violent clashes have reportedly left 40 dead.


Kathmandu says India has shut border crossings in sympathy with protesters, but India maintains that the protests have obstructed trade routes on the Nepalese side. Although Nepal’s newly appointed Prime Minister, K.P. Sharma Oli, has pledged to “address the hardships,” a long and dangerous winter looms with fuel in diminishing supply.


This appears in the November 02, 2015 issue of TIME.

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