It’s been two weeks since a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, and we are learning more details about the severity of the impact on our staff and partners.
Free the Slaves Nepal Director Neelam Sharma and members of our front-line partner organizations have been traumatized by the quake and its aftermath. We have received tragic news that three staffers at our partner organization GMSP have lost family members. One lost her sister, one lost her grandmother and one lost her grandfather.
Ongoing aftershocks and quake-damaged buildings have limited the capacity of activists to return fully to work. GMSP’s building was destroyed. A hostel for slavery survivors, run by our partner organization Shakti Samuha, has also been destroyed.
The risk of increased slavery and trafficking typically follows a natural disaster. People in financial crisis borrow money that can lead to debt bondage. Others send family members abroad to earn money, creating ideal conditions for traffickers posing as labor recruiters.
An article this week in The Guardian quotes the head of Shakti Samuha:
“This is the time when the brokers go in the name of relief to kidnap or lure women. We are distributing assistance to make people aware that someone might come to lure them,” said Sunita Danuwar, director of Shakti Samuha, an NGO in Kathmandu. “We are getting reports of [individuals] pretending to go for rescuing and looking at people.”
Free the Slaves has been working with our staff and partners in Nepal to ensure they have the support they need to take care of themselves, their families and their communities.
We will keep you updated periodically on the situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nepal.