The decade-long armed conflict launched by the Maoists caused erosion of many social values, trust, and solidarity in societies, communities, and families. Human rights violations and brutality were extreme on both sides of the conflict; with offences, committed affecting all segments of the population, but in particular the most vulnerable. In fact, the conflict proved that poor and/or socially excluded members of society suffer exponentially in conflicts, for they are less able to cope with, respond to, or recover from difficult conflict-related situations. In particular, the lives of women and children have been affected with the right to education disrupted, and a heightened prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV). In a context of killing and maiming, abductions, and the disappearance of the extra-judicial system, children and youth in large numbers found themselves orphaned, working as child laborers, homeless or displaced, and without traditional social support systems.
Approximately 14,000 including 456 children directly lost their lives due to conflict and countless others indirectly, approx. 1000 and over remain disappeared. HimRights documented nearly 1900 cases of human rights violations such as killing, maiming, torture, disappearances, abductions, detentions, etc from July 2004-March 2007. Many families remain internally displaced (estimates suggest over 200,000 IDPs), internal migration persists, and exclusion within vulnerable host communities continues unabated. In addition to uprooted and conflict-affected people’s needs and rights, host communities are filled with returnees who have few livelihood options, limited access to social services, and are often caught in the crossfire between political ideologies.
In the post conflict situation, Nepal is facing many challenges. Reconciliation of victims of conflict is a major crisis. People are facing many psychologically, socially and financially problems. Many have feelings to retaliate to avenge killings and torture of their family members and/or themselves by the conflicting parties from both sides, Government and Maoist. There are many other issues like reintegration of the displaced people, compensation for those who lost life and/or injured, whereabouts of the disappeared, status of the children born from rapes, trauma of the raped and sexually harassed women, single women, orphans, survivors of the landmines and IEDs explosions are some of the visible challenges. There is no recorded data on rape or children born out of it.
In this transitional phase in the country there are other groups violently raising their issues. In Tarai, hostility is increasingly gaining momentum between Madhesi and Pahadi 'hill origin'. People of hill origin are forced to migrate in the northern areas to escape threat to their lives. There are more than 50-armed groups in action in these areas. They have been actively involved in the killing and abductions of hill people and demanding huge ransoms for release. The other aspect is people from Madhes are demanding for their identity and rights to be ensured. Similarly, various ethnic groups are violently demanding for their rights and voices to be heard.
The trouble, suffering faced by the children during the Maoist insurgency and increasingly by armed groups is still daunting. These groups killed, tortured suspected family member in front of them; kidnapped their parents at guns points, in some cases, schoolteachers were mutilated, hanged, and/or shot in the school premises. Family, teachers, and others were seen with chopped off hands or legs or heads. In many cases children themselves had to face these tortures and or get killed. Many children were maimed/ killed in cross-fires or mine/IED explosions. Similarly, many of them are able to survive with disability from the IED explosions. Many of the cases conflict victims are not documented/ supported and even there is lack of follow-up support for those who got once. Furthermore, increasingly they have been used as child soldiers and re-recruited by other armed groups especially in Terai.
HimRights has started Reconciliation Project with Conflict Affected Children in a joint venture with UNICEF since 2008 with the aim to brought children affected from both sides conflict in a common shared reconciliation platform.
The overall goal of the project is to create a platform for conflict-affected children to voice their experiences and their role in Reconciliation and Peace Process.
Children affected by armed conflict (CAC)- mine victims and physically challenged, CAAFAG, victims of communal violence, IDPs, disappeared, political demonstration, Madhesis and other ethnic movements (Limbuan, Khambuan, Tharuwan, Tamseling, etc), Government Stakeholders, community, parents and teachers.
- Create a platform for conflict-affected children to voice their experiences.
- Promote the meaningful involvement and participation of children and youth in the peace process
- Develop opportunities to promote children’s perspectives and consider CACs view points at district and national level, ensure their issues in CA member
- Build a protective environment for children to participate in reconciliation processes
- Ensure that the family, extended family and community are incorporated into the development of reconciliation activities.
- Sensitize people and stakeholders on the status of the children affected by armed conflict and other relevant issues
Women were one of the hardest hit groups during the over decade long armed conflict. They suffered mentally, psychologically, and physically. They were sexually abused, raped, killed, disappeared, tortured, and maimed. However, there are some positive impacts too.
During armed conflict they had to face various challenges and problems from both conflicting parties—Maoists and State. Many rural areas men and youth fled to cities or India to escape the possible threat from both Maoists and State which left women, children and old people behind. This increased the workload of the women tremendously, the gender disaggregated work had to be solely done by women including cremation of corpse. The Maoists forced them to provide with food and lodging on the other hand, the Security force tortured them for doing so. They were even arrested as Maoists. They were sexually abused and raped in many cases.
Most cases of women and girls affected by armed conflict have not been addressed in policies and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC). Women's realties and experiences of conflict are not viewed as important issue. Women have suffered tremendously during the conflict. There is a long term impact from the traumas during this period which has not been addressed. In general, psychological issues are not viewed as important aspect which needs to be dealt. There is huge need for reconciliation work with women. Furthermore, this is a critical space and period to raise the voices of women directly affected by armed conflict in the Constitution and in future policies.