The deadly earthquakes in Nepal last spring put the young survivors at risk for another tragedy – the danger of being sold by human traffickers.
Nepal has a long history of child exploitation and officials feared a surge in trafficking after the huge earthquakes took more than 9,000 lives and destroyed a half million homes. Traffickers find desperate families easy targets of the traffickers’ false promises of education, meals, and a better future.
An estimated 12,000 Nepali children are trafficked into India every year, according to 2001 report cited by UNICEF. Girls are at risk of getting sold into prostitution or domestic slavery and boys taken into forced labor. In the wake of a disaster, the risks are even greater for vulnerable children.
Nepal Youth Foundation, founded by World of Children Honoree Olga Murray coordinated with child welfare agencies to open two transit centers in districts hardest hit by the quakes. NYF staff provided dozens of orphaned or displaced children in Gorkha and Kavre districts with nutritious meals, shelter, schooling, and play to help them heal from their traumatic experiences. The District Child Welfare Board monitored the camps and provided security personnel for the children’s safety. The children remained at the centers until they could be reunited with relatives or find appropriate care.
In addition, the government suspended international adoption after the first earthquake and banned children from traveling between districts without a parent or guardian. The registration of new orphanages was suspended and the already active organizations could not receive new children without government authorization.
“There has to be a coordinated effort to prevent trafficking,” NYF’s president Som Paneru told the Kathmandu Post last summer. “The police, NGOs and law enforcement agencies are working very closely. As a result, hundreds of children have been rescued from traffickers. So law enforcement agencies should be placed on high alert all the way down to the border. “
Paneru said that the best way to rebuild damaged communities is to reunite children with their families – only those children with no other options should be placed in orphanages.
To help make these options more feasible for the families of children displaced by the earthquakes, NYF launched a “Kinship Care” program. Displaced children live with a relative and NYF provides financial support for their education, food, medical expense and general care. NYF plans to care for up to 1,000 children through the new program.
About Nepal Youth Foundation
Founded in 1990, NYF has reached more than 50,000 impoverished children in Nepal. In addition to operating two children’s homes, it runs 16 nutrition clinics, a home for HIV-affected children, a counseling center for children, and a large scholarship program.
NYF also led a successful campaign to end Kamalari, the practice of selling young girls as household servants. NYF rescued more than 12,700 girls and is now active in helping them build new lives through education, job training and counseling. The government officially banished the practice in 2013.
This story was originally posted as part of our January 2016 Child Protection Blog Carnival. Read more posts from the Blog Carnival here >>