Internally Displaced Children in Nepal: Global Implications On Data Inconsistency and Methodological Challenges
Every year, millions of people are displaced due to internal conflicts around the world. The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are forced to leave their homes after war or civil strife, but remain inside the national borders, their plight often forgotten by the outside world. The purpose of our study is to explore the impact of data gaps for over 10,000 internally displaced children in Nepal and its human rights consequences. Subsequently, we provide methodological implications for data inconsistency in similar global conflict situations.
We sampled country reports from major agencies involved in the cluster approach that addresses IDP issues, such as United Nations agencies (UNHCR, UNICEF, WFO, UNDP, and OHCR), international non-governmental organizations (International Organization for Migration, International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Displacement Monitoring Center), government organizations, local non-profit organizations and the media. We followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) to identify studies that would meet the eligibility criteria and assessed the findings into a systematic presentation of synergistic understanding. Inclusion criteria for the reports were based on reports of conflict related children/ displaced children posted after May 2008 and internally displaced children as a result of direct and indirect impact of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal.
Results showed data inconsistency among UN agencies, INGOs, and the government in reporting the number of children displaced as a result of the Maoist conflict in Nepal. While the Nepal government and UNHCR consider most IDPs (out of the total 89,000) on their list to have returned home or been compensated, IDMC continues to report on addressing the difficulty to estimate and track the proportion of IDPs who have failed to be registered and that the capital city of Kathmandu as the host for the highest number of IDPS. The study found no formal reporting on the whereabouts of the displaced children till date in Nepal. Reports of more than tenfold increase in homelessness among children, wandering the streets and living under the bridges and on river bank slums of Katmandu have been reported since the beginning of the civil war.
End of conflict situations cannot be the end of displacement manifested by conflict for many children who lost their homes, families, and their caretakers. The repercussions of inaccurate data results in funding cuts for reintegration, rehabilitation or repatriation for these displaced children. Unable to return home, children live in destitute and poverty. Our study provides implications for the promotion of national policies for child welfare for the protection of displaced children in similar conflict situations. Consistency in reliable data reporting and dissemination for future programs and funding is of foremost importance for displaced children. They help in providing community-based reintegration services, access to education, psychosocial support, and legal rights for properties and more. Established methods of data collection, transparency and reporting builds the capacity of government and civil society partners to accurately monitor, document, and report the welfare of displaced children around the world.