Express News Service
PATNA: The Railway Protection Force (RPF), the CHILDLINE and the UNICEF together launched “Surakshit Safar” at 11 railway stations in Bihar on Saturday to reach out to vulnerable children among returning migrants.
The initiative ‘Surakshit Safar’ (safe Journey) – will reach out to migrant children and families was launched during an online webinar.
“Over 150 youth mobilisers (Suraksha Sathis) have been stationed across 11 railway platforms in Bihar to assist the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and CHILDLINE in raising awareness on COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviours (CAB) and identify children, women vulnerable to neglect, abuse and exploitation amongst the returning migrants.
They will connect them to available Covid care centres and child protection services to provide immediate assistance (food, medicine, information) as well as specific services including psycho-social counselling, protection-support, informed Gargi Saha, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF Bihar.
This Surakshit Safar initiative has been launched at 11 railway stations at Gaya, Narkatiyaganj, Muzaffarpur, Katihar Buxur, Hajipur, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Patna Junction, Rajendra Nagar and Chhapra.
Official statement claimed that last year reverse migration due to COVID-19 caused an increase in instances of child abuse, including child labour, trafficking, domestic violence. During the second wave of Covid, children and young people are increasingly being affected. The initiative aims to reach around 10 lakh vulnerable migrants including unaccompanied children and adolescents.
“The economic vulnerability and migration due to the pandemic is giving rise to violation children’s rights. Railway stations are critical entry points through which we can proactively identify vulnerable children and women and reach out with immediate and long term support,” said Nafisa Binte Shafique, Chief of UNICEF in Bihar.
Congratulating and thanking UNICEF, RPF and Childline for this timely initiative, Ashok Kumar Singh, SP, RAIL Muzaffarpur said: “We are working together with all partners to increase the prosecution and increase conviction rate of the cases of child trafficking, abuse and exploitation. To send a strong message to people who are violating the rights of women and children.”
Bina Kumari, SP, CID (Weaker Section), said: “Every police station must have a Child Welfare and Protection Officer (CWPO) to attend to cases of violation of child rights.”
She further explained that police personnel should understand the psychology of children and address issues sensitively, build the trust of children and people at large.
Susovan Si, Coordinator, Bihar Chapter, CHILDLINE Services explained, “CHILDLINE 1098 is a nationwide toll-free helpline service where any one can report about children in distress. Children themselves can call, seek help and be assured their identity will be protected.”
The same no. 1098 is present in all South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries. He further shared that last year 13,039 calls were made to CHILDLINE ,where children needed emergency support.
“Of that, 1072 calls were from 10 railway stations in Bihar, 32 calls were from abuse victims and 521 calls were from kids affected by COVID-19 where they were separated from the family or did not have anything to eat,” he added.