A total of 2,729 children, including 831 boys and 1,898 girls, were reported missing in fiscal 2019- 20, said the Ministry of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens.

According to the annual report (2019-20) recently published by the MoWCSC, the reported number of missing children dropped in 2019-20, compared to the previous fiscal when 3,422 children had gone missing. "Of the 2,729 missing children, 2,219 (690 boys and 1,529 girls) were found and reintegrated with their families in 2019-20," the report said.

The rate of untraced children is 20.6 per cent. Search for the remaining 510 children (141 boys and 369 girls) is under way.

The main sources of data of missing children were their parents, information obtained from toll free telephone number 104, police control phone number (100), provincial offices, district police offices, governmental and non-government organisations and child helplines.

Annually, over 2,000 children are reported missing in Nepal.

Among them, girls account for nearly 55 per cent and boys 45 per cent. Of the total number of missing children, around 53 per cent were 17 or 18 years of age.

According to National Report on Trafficking in Persons in Nepal recently published by the National Human Rights Commission last year, the higher number of girls missing from the age group of 17 or 18 years, establishes the fact that missing children phenomenon is linked to trafficking.

Among the provinces, the highest proportion of missing children in 2019-20 was recorded in Bagmati Province where the majority of children were recorded in Kathmandu valley.

Trends and reasons for missing children include poverty, dislike of family environment, abandonment by parents, father or mother or both living in foreign countries, step-father or step-mother at home, friends' luring them away, domestic violence and abuse, lack of caring, running away for employment without informing the family, sexual offence and trafficking, among others, warned the report.

According to a senior official at Nepal Police, the search never ends, but some cases of missing kids can also be linked to human trafficking, murder, unclaimed death, or children leaving home to pursue a career of their own choice.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 17, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.