Afghanistan: UN official expresses deep concern after report reveals children bear brunt of conflict

Bamiyan, Afghanistan: children make a long journey to continue their education. Photo: UNICEF/AFGA2012-00090/Abdul Aziz Froutan

26 June 2015 – Last year saw more children killed or maimed in Afghanistan since monitoring of those statistics began in 2007, reflecting that “children are bearing the brunt of the conflict,” according to United Nations UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on children and armed conflict in that strife-torn country.

“The killing and maiming of children from the indiscriminate use of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] in populated areas, and the use of children as suicide bombers, can only be condemned as flagrant violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” said Leila Zerrougui, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

The 18-page report, released Thursday, says 2,302 children were killed, and 5,047 injured throughout the reporting period from 1 September 2010 to 31 December 2014. Of that toll, 2,502 children were killed or injured in 2014 alone – making that year the worst for child casualties of any in Afghanistan since the monitoring began in July 2007.

“These tragically high casualty numbers show that children are bearing the brunt of the conflict, and unfortunately this trend continues with the deterioration of the security environment into 2015,” Ms. Zerrougui said in a press release on the report.

She also highlighted the report’s expression of serious concern for what it calls “widespread impunity for grave violations against children by Government security forces, including against children in detention for alleged association with armed groups.”

“These children are first and foremost victims, and they should be treated as such,” she said.

Despite the difficult security context, the report highlights the “commendable progress” the Afghan Government and its National Security Forces have made towards ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children – after the signing of an Action Plan and the establishment of a road map specifying steps for achieving that end.

The report noted that a Government decree criminalizing underage recruitment by the Afghan National Security Forces has been in force since February 2015, and “lies at the centre of all efforts to ensure accountability and prevent the recruitment and use of children by both the Government and armed group actors.”

“I look forward to working with the Government of Afghanistan even more intensively in the months ahead as we move towards fully implementing the country’s Action Plan for ending recruitment and use of children,” Ms. Zerrougui said.

The report calls for donor support, including sustainable funding for the “timely and effective” implementation of the Action Plan in line with the goal of the Children, Not Soldiers campaign to end recruitment and use of children in Government forces by 2016.

The 18-page report highlights the situation of children affected by armed conflict in Afghanistan, and presents information collected by the UN-led Afghanistan Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting. It covers monitoring of the six grave violations the UN Security Council has identified as affecting children caught in armed conflict.


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