The decade-long civil war in Nepal from 1996-2006 claimed more than twelve thousand lives; the devastating economic consequences have destroyed hundreds of thousands more in one of the poorest countries in the world.
In the remote regions of the country, Maoist rebels used intimidation and even murder to control villages and abduct children to force into the rebel army. The United Nations cited the crisis of Nepal’s children in the conflict zone as one of its 10 Stories the World Should Hear More About in 2006.
Despite the official end of the conflict in 2006, child traffickers continue to prey on rural village concerns for their children by deceiving families with promises of safety for their children and attendance at top boarding schools in the Kathmandu Valley. For this service, traffickers demand vast sums from already impoverished families; then they quickly remove children from their villages. Obtaining guardianship of the children, they proceed to transfer them to illegal orphanages in Kathmandu or keep them enslaved as street beggars and laborers supporting the traffickers and their families. In many cases, children have falsified documents declaring them orphans and making them available for international adoptions.
The children, some as young as three or four years old, effectively become “paper orphans” exploited by an inadequately regulated and monitored adoption system.