The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today issued a joint warning to all Nepalese to keep the country’s children free from harm amid mounting concern that they are frequently participating in violent protests and general strikes.
Earlier this month in Nepalgunj, “a considerable number of children aged between seven and 15,” some carrying sticks, were seen supporting the enforcement of a bandh or general strike. In another case, children aged between eight and 12 were observed manning a roadblock in Sunsari district armed with sticks.
More than 100 children, some in school uniforms, also took part in a violent attack on Nepali Congress members in Darchula district on 5 February.
UNICEF and OHCHR urged all parties in Nepal to respect the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to take all measures to avoid exposing boys and girls under the age of 18 to risk of harm. The country’s recently enshrined electoral code clearly states that no children should be brought to participate in any kind of procession, mass meeting or election-related activity.
“Furthermore, it is unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of children in the Terai and some Eastern hill districts have been prevented from attending school due to the imposition of bandhs,” the statement noted. “The indefinite closure of schools has forced girls and boys to stay at home and is depriving them of their fundamental right to education.”