Caught in the Middle: Mounting Violations Against Children in Nepal’s Armed Conflict

Caught in the Middle: Mounting Violations Against Children in Nepal’s Armed Conflict

Caught in the Middle: Mounting Violations Against Children in Nepal’s Armed Conflict

The Maoist and government forces in Nepal have killed approximately 10,000 people, including 286 children since the outset of the “People’s War” in 1996, according to the Informal Service Sector Centre (INSEC), a leading Nepalese human rights organization. Given the severity of the situation, and the lack of progress in peace talks, it is imperative that the UN Security Council and other high-level members of the international community provide the essential resources and potential remedies necessary to protect Nepali children before any further degradation of their current situation occurs.

Already, in the first six months of 2004, Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN) collected information from research reports, newspapers and other sources and found 54 deaths of children as a direct result of armed conflict (42 boys, 12 girls). These deaths were caused by bomb blasts, cross fire and other forms of violence. Two suicides of children were directly tied to armed conflict (1 boy, 1 girl), 99 children were injured, 77 children were arrested and 6,689 children were abducted.

Since the end of the cease-fire agreement in 2003, violations against Nepali children have been steadily increasing by both parties to the conflict. The conflict has eroded fragile and tenuous gains in literacy, child mortality and other key indicator areas, as the general standard of living and quality of life for all Nepali children continue to deteriorate.

This report combines information collected from a variety of sources to document violations against children and adolescents in the context of the armed conflict in Nepal.

Snapshot of Violations of Children’s Security and Rights

(Source citations for information below are included in the main text and at the end of the report)

  • Children are subjected to killing and maiming committed with impunity by both the Maoists and government forces
  • Maoists have targeted schools for attacks and use schools as grounds for abduction and recruitment of children and teachers
  • Maoists and government forces have used schools as battlegrounds and have also requisitioned schools for use as barracks and other purposes
  • Children are systematically denied their right to education as a result of Maoist bandhs (strikes), fear to attend due to violence in schools, destruction of schools, school closures and the overcrowding of schools that are still functioning
  • Up to 30 percent of Maoist forces may consist of boys and girls under 18 years
  • In the first six months of 2004, 92 children have been killed by mines or unexploded ordnance used by Maoists and government forces; this number is already higher than the total number of children killed in 2003
  • Girls are raped and subject to other forms of sexual violence by Maoists and government forces; survivors of gender-based violence often remain silent due to lack of protection for them
  • As part of the widespread pattern, children under age 18 have “disappeared” and been arbitrarily detained by government forces, often for suspected involvement with the Maoists
  • Children and their families are forcibly displaced due to insecurity, death threats, unreasonable imposition of “donations,” harassment, destruction and looting of homes, food insecurity, lack of access to education and health services, threat of abduction and/or recruitment by Maoists
  • Maoist looting and other activities, as well as blockades set up by government armed forces, restrict children’s access to food, medicine and immunizations, as well as to regular activities for daily life
  • Armed conflict, violence and insecurity are likely to exacerbate the potential HIV/AIDS risks in Nepal, particularly among girls who are increasingly vulnerable to rape, sexual exploitation and trafficking, as well as among adolescents who lack information and access to HIV testing centers
  • Trafficking of women and girls into India for domestic servitude or work in carpet factories, circuses, farms, road construction and other purposes, as well as for sexual exploitation, has likely increased due to the armed conflict; displacement of children and their families emulating traditional migration patterns has also significantly increased
  • Children are orphaned or separated from their parents and families due to the armed conflict; they end up in group homes, on the streets, in unsafe labor conditions, including commercial sex work, and in other vulnerable situations
  • Children and their wider communities throughout Nepal are living in fear and insecurity, and under the constant threat of violence, causing mental health problems and psychosocial consequences

This report makes urgent recommendations to the government of Nepal, the Maoists, the UN Security Council, the UN country team and humanitarian community in Nepal and to donors to take immediate action to protect Nepali children and adolescents from any further abuses. (See Recommendations below.) First and foremost, the government forces and the Maoists must take immediate steps to uphold international humanitarian laws and international human rights, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child, by halting all violations against children’s security and rights.

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