© UNICEF/AnjaliEdit02/Shrestha

Exploitation the new danger for Nepal's children

At least 245 children have been intercepted from traffickers

The biggest threat to Nepal’s children, three months after two earthquakes devastated the popular South Asian country, is no longer the spread of disease or even the fear of another tremor: it’s trafficking.

UNICEF, a long term presence in Nepal and active immediately following the April 25 earthquake and May 12 quakes, holds grave concerns that children already displaced and vulnerable will be easy targets for traffickers.
 
1.1 million children live in areas affected by earthquakes that killed 9,000 people and destroyed homes, communities and put hundreds of thousands out of work. The first earthquake, which struck three months ago now, was the biggest Nepal had experienced in 80 years.
 
UNICEF acted quickly to house displaced families, reunite children with their parents or close relatives, install systems for clean water and waste, immunise children against the rapid spread of disease and provide safe places for children to resume their schooling.
 
Yet, despite the quick response a threat still lingers.

Children back to school following Nepal earthquake
Thousands of children like Anjali are back in school but the danger of exploitation remains.

In Nepal, trafficking was rife even before the earthquake, with an estimated 12,000 Nepalese children trafficked to India every year. Girls not recruited into prostitution face being sold as domestic slaves, and boys are taken into forced labour.
 
UNICEF fears its efforts, along with the efforts of Government and other partners, will need to grow to ensure the risk of trafficking does not increase.  Already, by the end of June, UNICEF helped stop 245 children from being trafficked but realises it’s the tip of a growing iceberg.
 
“Loss of livelihoods and
worsening living conditions may
allow traffickers to easily convince
parents to give their children
up for what they are made to
believe will be a better life.”

For some children there are no parents to protect them from the offers made by traffickers, which include the promise of a home, safety and security along with more tangible things like food and school.

“Traffickers promise education, meals and a better future but the reality is that many children could end up being horrendously exploited and abused,” UNICEF Nepal Representative Tomoo Hozumi said.
 
“I will let her study as long as I am alive. I will support her studies until I am no longer able.”
For Anjali, 13, these temptations could have wooed her except for the care and protection of her grandfather. Anjali lost both her parents in the April 25 earthquake and though she will need care and support to rebuild her life, her grandfather knows staying with her living relatives and going back to school with friends in her local community is the best thing for her, and many like her.

Three months on from the April 25 earthquake, Nepal is getting back on its feet. Almost 80 per cent of health centres in the worst affected areas still need to be rebuilt and there are 32,000 classrooms to reopen – one by one.
 
Children are the most at risk, and still need you.

Listen to the Chief of Child protection for UNICEF in Nepal, Virginia Perez, speak with SBS News about the dangers to children.

Keep kids safe in Nepal


UNICEF is urgently working to prevent children in Nepal from falling into the hands of traffickers. We're establishing Child Friendly Spaces to protect kids while their parents are working, we're delivering safety advice to thousands of families in affected regions and, as a last resort, we're supporting interception points along the country's borders.

You can help us expand this work now and keep more vulnerable children out of danger.

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