Efforts begin to save children from trafficking in five flood-affected districts of Bihar
The districts where the Niti Aayog has put special focus include Araria, Khagaria, Katihar, Purnia and Sitamarhi.
Apprehending high violations of child rights and the vulnerability of children to human trafficking in flood-affected areas in Bihar, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, has started preparing to stop such incidents in five flood-affected districts of the state with the support of local administration and the NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and Kailash Satyarthi Foundation (KSF) which have been working for child rights, officials said.
The districts where the Niti Aayog has put special focus on the protection of children against any mental or physical abuse and trafficking, include Araria, Khagaria, Katihar, Purnia and Sitamarhi.
These districts have already been covered under the Niti Aayog’s Aspirational District Programme (ADP) which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2018 as a part of the government’s efforts to raise the living standards of people and to ensure inclusive growth for all. Altogether, 13 districts of the state have been identified for the Government of India’s Aspirational District Programme.
In the five flood-affected districts of the state, Bachpan Bachao Aandolan and Kailash Satyarthi Foundation have been asked to provide technical support to the local administration to ensure effective implementation of programmes for children from survival, immunization and nutrition to education to protection against trafficking, child labour and fake marriages.
Almost 12 districts of the state, especially those located on Indo- Nepal borders, have been under floodwaters for the last several weeks. And while the life of the entire population has been in turmoil, children are learnt to be the worst affected.
“This is why, out of the 13 districts in the state which have been identified as Aspirational Districts, in only five flood-affected districts the Niti Aayog has put special focus on children and their rights. Our role in this programme is that of a coordinator. We will coordinate between the government schemes for children and the target population,” Dhananjay Tingal, executive director, Bachapan Bachao Andolan (BBA), said.
Many development programmes and rehabilitation packages for the children rescued from the traffickers are already in place. The NGOs will help in their effective implementation, he added.
“In fact, many people are not aware of the facilities provided by the government. Even there’s little awareness whether the development measures have reached the target group,” he said.
Mukhtar ul Haq, BBA Bihar convener, said work is in the initial stage. “We just had the first round of meetings with local administration in all the five districts between August 11 and August 14 this year. Now, the action plan has to be prepared by the local administration,” he said.
Mukhtar said that in flood-affected districts, things related to children are most affected. “The survival, immunization and nutrition facilities made available to children under the integrated child development scheme by the social welfare department must not be available as the Anganwadi Kendras must have remained closed due to flood,” he said.
But most important is the protection of children against trafficking which is made to make them work as child labour, sex worker or for organ smuggling. Fake marriages have also become very common, he added.
“In flood-affected areas, these cases are quite high. We have to identify the points of trafficking and to help local administration to stop it,” he said.
Mukhtar said that once flood water recedes in these districts, NGOs would visit the areas for an assessment of problems there. “The most severe issue will be addressed first,” he stated.