Kathmandu, September 15, 2010 — Trafficking in persons is serious and widespread in Nepal, a country facing a deepening political crisis. Ongoing internal conflict and economic instability have shaped high rates of cross-border, international, and internal trafficking of women, men, and children. The enactment of the Human Trafficking and Transportation Control Act (TIP Act) in 2007 has yet to improve prosecutions and convictions significantly. In a focused, strategic effort to combat this growing problem, The Asia Foundation today formally launched a five-year, $6.8 million program awarded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers in six high-volume trafficking districts in Nepal. The Foundation’s cost-share contributions will bring the total program amount to approximately $7.4 million. The award goes into effect immediately.
The Asia Foundation and its 13 experienced partner organizations on the ground in Nepal will implement a five-year program—drawing from each group’s complementary expertise in counter trafficking to close critical gaps between legal and policy frameworks and their implementation. The program is designed to build coordination among partners, projects, and initiatives across a diverse group of government and civil society stakeholders to address the enforcement of anti-trafficking laws.
“This commitment to collaboration in the fight against trafficking in persons is a trademark characteristic of our ongoing initiatives,” said Dr. George Varughese, Country Representative in Nepal of The Asia Foundation. “Given our extensive network and deep local presence on the ground, we are well positioned to lead this critical need for effective, measurable programs that protect victims in Nepal and bring traffickers to justice. More than ever, a crippled government and economy severely limits law enforcement efforts and tracking systems in combating trafficking.”
The latest U.S. government studies indicate that as many as 800,000 people are trafficked internationally each year and that millions more are trafficked within their own countries. Non-governmental organizations estimate that as many as 15,000 girls are trafficked annually in Nepal alone.
A new dimension has developed during the last decade. Foreign labor migration is now a major area for exploitation. Faced with a politically and economically fragile environment, young women and men in Nepal willingly travel to urban centers in Nepal or abroad to find work, and are routinely exploited or trafficked.
The Asia Foundation has been a recognized leader in the fight against human trafficking in Asia for more than 15 years, as part of its mission to create a peaceful, prosperous, just, and open Asia-Pacific. With offices in numerous trafficking source and destination countries, the Foundation implements country-specific programs and regional initiatives to reduce trafficking and aid its victims.
Following a decade of armed conflict, Nepal is now engaged in a fundamental reorganization of the state. The Asia Foundation continues to work with both government and non-governmental institutions to address a range of issues that are central to conflict transformation, peace-building, and the long-term democratic, economic, and social development of Nepal.