... A number of children started to be affected directly by the conflict after the start of the armed insurgency. And the numbers have grown faster after the government declared a state of emergency in November last year.
Many children are suspected to have been killed in clashes between the Maoists and the security forces after the emergency was imposed, but the government has not commented on this. Although officials have admitted that some children in the Maoists ranks may have been killed, there are no concrete numbers.
According to Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN), in 1996 three children were "affected" by the conflict, which grew to eight in 1997, 64 in 1998, 48 in 1990, 48 in 2000, 55 in 2001 and so far this year, 50.
...Children are killed or disabled in all conflicts and as bad are the long-term effects that conflicts have on the psychology of children. They do not only affect them only at the moment, but tend to also have longer-term impacts, psychologists tell us.
...During the Holleri incident (July 2001), the Maoists' Rolpa district committee had organised a brief public meeting where a child around 10 or 12 years old was seen sitting down, clutching a muzzleloader. He was also sporting a cap with a red star. Later someone who was introduced to us as Comrade Gambhir told us, "The boy might have borrowed his brother's cap and gun, he is not our soldier. We don't have child soldiers, we have a policy not to have them
Sometime later the human rights activists with us asked a girl who brought us water how old she was. They were given an instant response: "17 years". But no one present believed her, and estimated that she was most probably 15 years old or under.
Two years ago when human rights organisations had said that the Maoists were using child soldiers, party Chairman Prachanda issued a statement saying that his group was against recruiting children as soldiers.
Professor Kapil Shrestha, a member of the Nepal Human Rights Commission who has visited the insurgency-hit districts several times, estimates that as much as 25 percent of the Maoist forces could be children. It is difficult to confirm this, he says, but based on travelling with them and observing them, we can say that about 25 percent are children. He adds, "I have seen students in school uniform providing security to the Maoist commanders."
Besides, many more children are associated with the Maoists as cooks, security guards, and messengers, as well as in the role of members of their cultural troupes. The repeated abductions of school students [by the Maoists] and also the attraction that the rebels have for students also testify to the presence of child soldiers.