Pokhara is a city in the centre of Nepal. Around 510,000 people live in the city, making it the second largest city in Nepal after the capital Kathmandu.
The city's population is ethnically diverse, with four Tibetan settlements. However, in these settlements, Tibetan refugees live under harsh conditions and without any documentation. Furthermore, children, especially girls, in the city are still at risk of child marriage, which are common in the region.
Since 1975, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Pokhara.
Nepal has the 16th highest rate of child marriages in the world. This means that 40% of women in Nepal were married before the age of 18.
Child marriage is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. There is also an increased risk of child pregnancy and domestic violence.
In the province of Gandaki specifically, where Pokhara is located, 35% of girls were married as a child. The national target to end child marriage by 2030 will require a major push from the Government.
To date, two generations of Tibetans have been born and raised in exile in Nepal, after the first emigration in 1959. However, more refugees are still arriving from Tibet, the autonomous region of China. They have often suffered oppression, which has led them to flee to Nepal.
An estimated 13,500 Tibetan refugees live in exile in Nepal. Life in the refugee camps is harsh, and Tibetan children are not granted Nepali citizenship even if they were born there. Moreover, Tibetans in Nepal are not allowed to own land, a house, a car or any other property, nor are they allowed to start a business. This makes life very difficult for many displaced families and their children.