A leading charity organisation has expressed fears that children who flee the Swat valley due to fighting between the Pakistani Army and Taliban may fall prey to child trafficking and end up enslaved in the sex industry.
Children and young people form majority of the 750,000 to one million people leaving the Swat Valley and surrounding districts in Pakistan due to the intense fighting, ActionAid said.
"Children face particularly dangers and hardships both on the journey and when they arrive and settle in camps or private homes and many could fall prey to child trafficking and end up enslaved in the sex industry which was prevalent in Pakistan after the earthquake of 2005," it said.
Javeria Ayaz Malik, communications coordinator for ActionAid, Pakistan, said there have been media reports of young children abandoned by their families along the route:
"Up to 70 per cent of the displaced population are children or young people. Families have been separated as some members took to the road while their relatives remained at home, either unwillingly trapped due to fighting and curfew, or intentionally staying back to look after houses, possessions and livestock," it said.