Campaigners warn of rise in trafficking after Nepal quake

2015-05-06 21:32
(Bernat Amangue, AP)

(Bernat Amangue, AP)

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Kathmandu - Human traffickers could try to target vulnerable women and children displaced by a devastating earthquake in Nepal, campaigners warned on Wednesday.

The deadly earthquake that struck on April 25 killed thousands of people and made many more homeless.

One non-government organisation working to prevent child trafficking said it had seen an increase in suspicious cases at the porous border with India which has in the past been used to traffic women and children from Nepal into slavery and prostitution.

"Girls are at high risk of trafficking and sexual abuse, they have to be protected," Anuradha Koirala, the founder of Maiti Nepal, an anti-trafficking organisation, told AFP.

Koirala said her organisation had increased its monitoring operations on the border with India.

A cycle of unemployment, poverty, gender discrimination and impact of 10-year Maoist insurgency has made Nepalese women and children in the country easy targets for traffickers.

A 2013 report by the country's human rights commission recorded 29 000 incidences of trafficking or attempted trafficking in the country.

"We have special teams inspecting camps and shelters to ensure that women and children live in a safe environment," said deputy spokesperson for Nepal Police, Sarbendra Khanal.

"We understand that there is a threat, and we are working to put in preventive measures."

Relief agencies working in quake-hit areas are seeking to raise awareness of the dangers to vulnerable people.

But Kamal Thapa Chettri from the trafficking office at Nepal's Human Rights Commission said agents could also be posing as aid workers.

"This [quake] gives them an opportunity to see who is desperate and find potential targets. The quake-hit areas definitely face an increased risk," he said.

Read more on:    nepal  |  nepal earthquake

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