The Campaign was inaugurated by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare CP Mainali. "Hundreds of thousands of children in Nepal are in search of safe destination and the devastating earthquake has led to the rise in the numbers," said Mainali.
Migration of children from rural to urban and urban to capital has been a common phenomena in Nepal. Child migration in search of better opportunities, skip poverty and prosecution and traditional discriminatory practices and violence has been identified by various studies and researches on the field of child rights. Around 1.1 million children in Nepal upto the age of 15 years are away from home. They are separated from their families and living beyond their own communities. Many of them are on the move living either with their employers, in the streets, trafficked, unaccompanied and institutionalized.
Mr Thangam Ponpandian, Programme Manager for Terre des Hommes’ Child Trafficking and Migration Programme, represented Terre des Hommes Netherlands at the campaign launch: 'It is great to see that this national campaign is being owned by multi-various stakeholders - Government, civil servants, civil society organisations, media - to protect the rights of children on the move'.
At the campaign launch stakeholders discussed the relevance of the campaign for Nepali children who are living in unsafe conditions; many are displaced or migrant children, many are victims of harassment and exploitation and many child rights are violated. The speakers at the event stated that the programme is thoroughly backed by the Government of Nepal and campaigners of civil society. They also expressed their commitment to work in cooperation and critical engagement with each other.
Goal of campaign in Nepal
The campaign envisage children’s rights are respected and protected without curtailing their freedom of movement in Nepal with an active engagement of civil society, community groups and responsive policies, actions and system in place by government and other key stakeholder agencies. The campaign aims at sensitizing and strengthening government system and mechanisms to respond needs of children on move, prevent unsafe mobility with enhanced collaborative engagement of civil society and stakeholders’ agencies.
Demands of Campaign
- Children on the move are entitled to protection based on their best interests as per Convention on the Rights of the Child, independently of their migration status, gender, age, health, nationality, religious or cultural belongings or any other ground.
- States must bring to an end practices that violate or abuse the rights of children on the move taking advantage of their vulnerability on migration status by anybody including state officials.
- Children and their families should find alternatives to mobility in their country and communities of origin for their well-being and development perspectives.
- Community protection practices in-line with the rights of the child must be respected while being linked to national law and protection policies.
- Protection of children must start with their own empowerment in their communities, and be extended through access to protection throughout their journey and at destination.
- Actors need to reconcile local protection customs, national law, transnational cooperation and international policies.
- A risk assessments should be conducted and documented prior to any decisions of repatriation and family reunification.
- States, NGOs and other protection actors are obligated to listen to the child concerned and take into account his/her views into any decision and listen to their expectations when designing and implementing projects for them.
- Public debate on protection of children on the move should be fostered based on facts and stories of the children concerned.
The Destination Unknown – Children on the Move (DU-COM) campaign Nepal is a national joint campaign of Nepalese organizations working on the field of child protection, who have joined to develop protection mechanisms for children on the move, raise awareness and advocate the campaign messages for policy change. The campaign is about ensuring children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled while on move or in migration status in Nepal. The DU-COM Nepal is part of international DU-COM Campaign. Destination Unknown is a five -years international campaign to protect children on the move led by Terre des Hommes - International Federation and supported by partners in different countries.
Millions of children worldwide are on the move – as migrants, refugees, as displaced persons, as street children, as soldiers, as laborers or trafficked children. Children on the move have various backgrounds, reasons, stories, problems, lives and wishes. Children on the move have the right to move. And they have the right of being protected, based on their best interest and on their views, independent of their migration status, gender, age, health, nationality, religious or cultural background.
The campaign aims to protect children on the move by raising awareness, giving voice to children and youth and advocating for their issues as well as delivering services to children on the move all around the world.
Rationale of campaign
Children on the move are invisible and ignored. They are not listened to. They are seen as a threat and not as children. They suffer isolation, prejudice and marginalization. Their health and emotional well-being are affected. Their needs and wish to seek their project life are not recognized. In some cases they are detained, prosecuted, forced to displacement. Sometimes they get exploited and even disappeared. Their interests are often absent from the preoccupations of public authorities. Governments are obliged to protect all children – including children on the move. But they generally fail to do so. Solutions to protect them exist. They need to be put in place by all actors concerned.
How do we approach the issue?
Children have the right to move and to be protected and this right shall be respected. Prevention aiming at simplistically avoiding children to move has proven to be inappropriate. Their mobility increases their vulnerability and risk of being exploited. But, their mobility also represents a potential for their future life and personal development. Providing they can benefit from adequate protection along their trip or at destination is important and is the fundamental norms.