KATHMANDU, September 10: The annual report of the National Center for Children at Risk (NCCR), a government body functioning under the Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB) in coordination with Nepal Police, has shown that as many as 2,052 children went missing across the country in the last fiscal year or 2016/17.
As per the statistics of NCCR, a total of 2,772 children including 1,046 boys and 1,725 girls were reported missing in the fiscal year and only 720 of them were found. Of them, 306 were reunited with their families while some were handed over to child protection centers for rehabilitation. But 2,052 of the children reported missing are still out of contact. In the capital alone, NCCR helped find 150 boys and 85 girls out of the 245 missing children.
According to the officials of NCCR, the number of missing children more than doubled in 2016/17 as compared to the previous fiscal year. In the previous fiscal year i.e. 2015/16, hardly 1,000 children were reported missing; out of them only 400 were found.
DSP Bishwa Raj Khadka said, “Yes, the rising number of missing children has drawn the attention of a lot of parents and organizations as well." According to him, though parents file complaints regarding the disappearance of their children but they don't report to the authority after finding them. Many government officials lament that there is no reliable way to determine the actual number of missing children in the country. This directly affects the statistics.
A large number of children reported missing who are stranding on the streets give fake details about their parents and also don't open up about the reason for their escape. "Most of the children run away from their homes as they can't stand the strictness and pressure of parents," said Santosh Chandra Adhikari, program officer at NCCR. After running away from their homes, they start working at restaurants and hotels in the cities while some live on streets enjoying their freedom to the fullest. "They keep changing their workplaces and locations, making it hard for us to find them," said Adhikari. In urban areas, the number of missing boys is comparatively higher but in rural areas the number of girls is higher. It has been found that the maximum number of missing children is aged 13-17.
Officials involved in searching the children claim that there are no cases of abduction, murder or trafficking. After finalizing the budget for the current fiscal year, NCCR in coordination with CCWB and Nepal Police will be formulating a work plan for the deployment of officials in every street, restaurant, bar and hotel of the country in search of the missing children, according to DSP Khadka.