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Mass Death Of Thousands Of Nepali Children?

Mass Death Of Thousands Of Nepali Children?


By Kamala Sarup

14 years old Sunita Aryal said "Before the maoist war, we lived in Baglung. When the conflict broke out in October 1996, we took refuge in another area. Meanwhile we have a house in Baglung. But we cannot go there because there is hatred, and robbery is widespread. We'd like to go home. If we could, our problems would be partly resolved". These are words of Sunita Aryal.

She said "One day I arrived home from school and found my father had been killed. I ran to my friends and we fled into the forest. We can not go to school, because several times we are sent home from school because we are unable to pay our school fees. We receive little support from our uncle who lives in Korea."

"When I heard about my mother's death, I was very sad. I cried a lot." She said. She especially missed them when she heard that her mother had died".

It said some of the children had witnessed horrible atrocities committed against their families or their neighbours. Girls living on the streets due to war or poverty were "extremely vulnerable" to sexual predation once they reached puberty. If they cannot find a home or are not taken in by a child welfare centre, they are almost certain to have to sell sex to survive. The war-affected children of the eastern Nepal have no opportunity for education, and eat one meal a day, if they are lucky. Many are homeless, forced to flee because of acute poverty.

Another girl, Jamuna Thapa 18, said " People were being killed in Dang. We were very scared. All of us fled with our uncle. My father was sick in hospital. Many other children in Dang have had similar experiences. Before the war men would not exploit young girls. It was very much forbidden.They would have been punished".

Jamuna and Sunita are one of hundreds of thousands of Nepali girls directly affected by the 9-year conflict. With the escalation of murders, thousands of women and girls like Jamuna and Sunita are pouring into urban and semi-urban areas.They may have never experienced normal life in the community. Their gender development can be totally skewed.

Eleven-year-old Suman had no idea why he was taken or why the guerrillas who took him were fighting. He just knew he had to do what he was told. "Otherwise, your life could be in danger," he said. "I saw people being whipped ... people being sent to distant areas.... When there was physical punishment, we were invited to witness. We were told that if you disobeyed, this could happen to you."

Social worker Niruta Malla, while speaking with the People's Review said, "Children associated with armies or gurilas are often stigmatized because of their participation in the conflict. Meanwhile, hostile environments prohibit some ethnic-minority children from attending schools and parents from earning money to provide for their children. Discrimination and attack can lead to the construction of an identity of themselves as victims. And that can become a warrant for future acts of violence to make sure that no one can ever do that to them again. How war and armed conflict impact on children".

She appeal to keep children out of war, if war itself cannot be stopped. We cannot expect children to grow up normally amid guns and explosives. We can see that more than 100 children have been killed in Nepal. This figure will go up. More than 1,500 children have lost their parents and 3,000 children are displaced along with their parents. This is the direct effect of the conflict. The indirect effect is much larger".

She said "In some way, the first war hit a family that was standing up, but now it hit a family, and actually in the first encounter with the family and children, they are crying together". She also added "One of the greatest effects I see on a day-to-day basis is a loss of hope. Once young people feel hopeless, they really do give up. They don't take the steps that might build a constructive future.

Yet, in order to build an international consensus among governments and armed political movements on the need to inure child populations from the impact of war, precise documentation of its real life impact on children in different parts of Nepal needed to be compiled. Most child recruits into maoists are from poor families or from minority or indigenous groups.

While attention to children in armed conflict has increased, girls' experiences and needs are just beginning to be noticed, says psychologist Susan McKay, PhD, a University of Wyoming professor. She says "children are low on the totem pole, but girl children are even lower," she explains. "Nobody will talk about them. So girls, up until very recently, have been invisible."

In the issues of children forced to flee from conflict, children under threat from HIV/AIDS, the heightened exposure of children to sexual exploitation during armed conflict, the impact of war on the health of children, the threats from landmines and unexploded ordnance; and child protection and the creation of an agenda of peace and security for children.

Most people have only recently started to realize that war affects children in many ways, In addition to witnessing fighting and bloodshed, children are faced with a host of other challenges, including: Armed conflict destroys the basic necessities of life: schools, health care, adequate shelter, water and food. That makes it difficult for communities to give children an environment that fosters healthy cognitive and social development.

Many children have family members who are kidnapped or killed while fighting--and others are taken from their families and forced to join armies. Others are separated from parents while fleeing conflict. The loss of the family places a considerable stress on children, especially since the biggest mediating factor in how they cope is a solid family relationship.

"When parents are emotionally affected by war, that alters their ability to care for their children properly," explains Mike Wessells, PhD, a Randolph-Macon College psychology professor with extensive experience in war zones. "War stresses increase family violence, creating a pattern that then gets passed on when the children become parents."

She further said "Many children, exposed to horrible acts of violence during key developmental years, come to accept violent acts as a normal part of life. "This is putting young people at risk for continuing cycles of violence," explains Wessells. "Violence is the way they will use to discipline their children or deal with a conflict with their spouse."

There's also a need for psychologists to advocate for policies that support children affected by armed conflict, and to help deliver other services--such as providing food, water and health care--in sensitive ways. Psychologists can help Government raise the level of psychological awareness. We have a question what causes the death of thousands of Nepali children? A child needs interaction and encouragement through these times. They need a place to communicate even the irrational fears without being condemned. Normalcy and balance are essential to their lives and to their emotional well being.

The exploitation of children in the ranks of the rebeles and armies must end. One of the most alarming trends in armed conflict is the participation of children as soldiers. Children are dropping out of childhood. The psychosocial effects of armed conflict on children can be devastating and may haunt them through life.

The principle of family unity, as safeguarded in the Convention of the Rights of the Child, must be the basis of all support for these children. War can lead to temporary or permanent separation of children from their parents or other adult caregivers. Those relationships are the major source of a child's emotional and physical security. Separation can have a devastating social and psychological impact.

*************

(Kamala Sarup is editor of http://peacejournalism.com/ )


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