The missing ones

As per the bi-annual report of the National Centre for Children at Risk (NCCR), a record number of 1,621 children have gone missing from various parts of the country in the last six months. Of the kids reported missing, 858 were found, including the bodies of five murdered in the period. It is interesting to note that most of the kids who went missing from the Central Development Region were found while only a fraction of the children reported missing from other four regions were either found or reported back to their homes. Poverty, expectation of a better life, family feuds, physical and mental torture, sexual harassment and exploitation have been cited as the major causes for children leaving their homes.

The NCCR says its capacity to operate outside Kathmandu Valley is severely handicapped in the absence of a nationwide network. It mostly relies on Nepal Police to locate the children gone missing from outside the Valley. In comparison, it has a much more robust network inside the Valley and, as a result, a much better record of locating missing kids. The need of a nationwide tracking network cannot be overemphasised considering where the majority of the missing children end up. Most of them are snapped up as child labourers, who are exploited much more than they were in their broken homes. Hence, it is very important to keep tab on the movement of these hapless children, not only to relieve the anguish of distraught parents but also to protect them from further exploitation.