Conflict sparks kids’ exodus, says report

Kathmandu, November 14:

A total of 17,583 children migrated from border areas of Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Tikapur, Dhangadhi and Mahendranagar to India between July and October last year, a research said, adding that a quarter of these children cited insecurity caused by the ongoing conflict as the reason for the exodus. Thirty-six per cent of the migrated children said poverty was to blame for migration. The results of the survey titled An Increasing Wave — Migration of Nepalese Children to India in the Context of Nepal’s Armed Conflict were made public in the capital today.

Central Child and Welfare Board and Save the Children Alliance had conducted the survey.

Deepak Sapkota, executive director, Central Child Welfare Board, said though the children did not use the word ‘conflict’, they said they had fled due to the fear of getting kidnapped, getting caught in cross-fire and unrest. According to the report, the migrated children hailed mainly from Kailali, Dang, Surkhet, Dailekh and Achham, the districts hit the hardest by the conflict. While 33 per cent of the migrated children were from the Dalit community, 30 per cent were from the Chhetri community, the report says. Thirteen per cent of the migrant children were leaving the country on their own, the report says, adding 87 per cent of the migrants were boys. While nearly half of the migrants were between 16 and 17 years of age, 25 per cent were aged between 11 and 15 years.

Shyam Sunder Sharma, joint secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said Nepal has recently ratified two protocols of Child Rights Convention, which state the responsibility of the host countries. Sharma expressed hope that the move taken by the government will help protect the rights of the migrant children. “The report on the migrated children will be used to implement the 10th five-year plan and create an environment for the betterment of children and protection of their rights,” said Sharma, the joint secretary. The report has recommended that a special policy or programmes be formulated for safe migration and migrant resource centres be set up.