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ABC News, July 3, 2008

Afghan children 'forgotten victims' of war: UN

"I can't think of any country in the world where children suffer more than in Afghanistan"

Child Soldier
"We also have reports that there are children associated with the Afghan police force in different parts of the country," said Radhika Coomaraswamy. (Photo: IRIN)

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says children in Afghanistan suffer more than in any other country in the world from violence, war and poverty.

It says Afghan children are not only caught up in fighting between Taliban rebels and international forces, but there is also evidence of an increasing number ending up on the frontlines.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN's special representative for Children in Armed Conflict, says Afghan children are the "forgotten victims" of three decades of war and violence.

"I can't think of any country in the world where children suffer more than in Afghanistan," Ms Coomaraswamy said.

"I can't think of any country in the world in which children suffer more than in Afghanistan. Because you not only have the terrible violations that occur during war but also the terrible poverty and hard workthat they have to engage in.
In all our meetings with children it takes a lot of time to make them smile. That to me shows that there is not happiness in their hearts.
We met children who had been maimed by aerial bombardment, night raids and other such perations.
We have also been receiving allegations about sexual violence against boys. Afghan civil society is particularly concerned about what has been called the Bacha-bazi system or practice for young boys associated with military commanders."
ReliefWeb, July 3, 2008

She says her organisation is to present a comprehensive report on the plight of children in Afghanistan to the United Nations Security Council in October.

Suicide bombers

Ms Coomaraswamy says UNICEF has "credible information that in the last few months there has been an increase in the number of children being in combat."

"We also have reports of individual cases of suicide bombers," she said.

She has urged all parties involved in violence in Afghanistan to follow what she says is a Taliban edict banning young boys from fighting.

"Talibans have stated that mujahedeen (holy warriors) are not allowed to take young boys with no facial hair onto the battlefield or into their private quarters," she said.

"We urge all parties, especially the anti-government elements, to take action to prevent children from being used in the battlefield."

Category: Warlords, Taliban/ISIS/Terrorism, Children, HR Violations, Poverty - Views: 35491


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