Crisis of Large Numbers of Internally Displaced Children Due to Conflict in Nepal


Organisations working with children in Nepal are alarmed at the disastrous impact the conflict between the Maoist insurgents and the monarchy is having on children, in particular those forced to flee their homes. They estimate that 40,000 children have been displaced since the conflict started in 1996. Since King Gyanendra assumed direct power and declared a state of emergency in February 2005, fighting is reported to have intensified throughout the country, with rural areas worst affected. The human rights situation has also deteriorated sharply, with both the Maoists and the security forces guilty of abuses against civilians. With the escalating conflict over the past year and resulting exodus of young adults from rural areas, the Maoists have reportedly intensified their recruitment campaign among ever younger recruits. Another factor contributing to the displacement of children is the lack of education opportunities, due to both the shortage of teachers (many of whom have been specifically targeted by the Maoists) and to the closure of schools resulting from Maoist-led general strikes. While some children cross the border to India where they are also vulnerable to exploitation, many seek refuge in urban areas in Nepal and end up either as domestic labour or living on the streets. A report published in early 2005 by a coalition of organisations working with children estimates that there is a total of some 5,000 street children in Nepal’s main cities. The International Labour Organisation expects between 10,000 and 15,000 children will be displaced by the conflict in 2005.