Protections Needed for Children in Nepal

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KATHMANDU, NEPAL – With Nepal still struggling to recover from a massive earthquake one year ago, Plan International is calling on the international community, governments, and donors to take immediate action to institute key protections for children from exploitation, child labour, and trafficking, while also meeting urgent health, educational, and counselling needs.

Girl walks past ruined building on her journey to school in Dolakha district (Photo: Max Greenstein)

Nepal’s recovery has been slow, and many villages in affected areas still lay in ruin. An estimated 600,000 families are still living in temporary shelters, many in communities that already suffer from severe poverty. This leaves children in affected communities particularly at risk of multiple hazards, ranging from health and malnutrition to falling prey to exploitation and trafficking.

Plan International has been one of the leading agencies in the humanitarian response in Nepal, working to enact core child protection measures in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, and throughout the past year. Within days of the earthquake, Plan International had established child friendly spaces throughout the Kathmandu Valley, providing a secure environment for children displaced in the chaos and destruction. In addition, almost 45,000 children have received emotional care, counselling and psychological support to help cope with the trauma of the earthquake.

 The longer an emergency is protracted, the more vulnerable children become. 

Children remain vulnerable

 “The longer an emergency is protracted, the more vulnerable children become. As families get more desperate and the struggle to provide basic needs gets more critical, the greater the risk that children may get sick, drop out of school, or fall prey to traffickers or forced into child labour,” said Mattias Bryneson, Country Director for Plan International Nepal.

“In the last year Plan International and our partners have made major contributions to aiding the health and safety of children in Nepal, but country-wide urgent action is still needed, as is more financial investment, to tackle these issues immediately, and for the long term,” added Bryneson

“Girls and women face increased risks in an unstable and uncertain environment, and we’re very concerned about reports that there have been increases in incidents of violence against women and girls, child marriage, and trafficking in communities affected by the earthquake,” said Bryneson.

One of Plan International’s emergency response measures has been the establishment of anti-trafficking checkpoints at key locations in rural areas. Working in conjunction with police and government authorities, several hundred children in danger of being trafficked have been intercepted at these checkpoints and retuned to their communities.

Plan International is planning to build 20 new schools and repair 1,600 classrooms

Priorities moving forward

Education and rebuilding permanent, safe, and inclusive schools is also central to Plan International’s child protection commitment. Plan International is planning to build 20 new schools and repair 1,600 classrooms, and also to ensure that the curriculum and teacher training is inclusive of children’s rights, with a particular focus on girls and gender based violence.

More than 35,000 classrooms were destroyed in the earthquakes on April 25 and May 12, 2015.

Plan International is committed to Nepal for the long term. Over the next two years, our aid will support 325,000 more people in need. Because women and girls have suffered disproportionately in natural disasters, Plan International is working to ensure urgent protections and to tackle systematic issues over the long-term. Plan International’s Earthquake Recovery Strategy priorities tackling gender inequality and working with communities to transform the gender disparity that predominates in much of Nepal. 

Editor's notes

Senior representatives from Plan International are available for interviews regarding the current state of reconstruction efforts and on going development needs. 

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