Online - International News Network, September 19, 2008

Children worst sufferers in Afghan conflict

Among 700 civilians killed in the past six months in conflict, 40 per cent were children and women.

An Afghan child killed by US troops in Kabul on Sep.1, 2008
The body of Afghan child who was killed with his brother and father named Nurullah by U.S-led troops in Kabul early September 1, 2008.

KABUL: Forty per cent of the civilian victims of recent military operations and fighting in Afghanistan are children and women, a local child protection agency said.

The Afghan Children Protection Organization (ACPO) said in a statement that among 700 civilians killed in the past six months in conflict, 40 per cent were children and women. The organization said it was concerned about the increasing bad effects of the war taking civilian lives.

The ACPO statement added that children were making most of the victims in the recent bombings in Nuristan, Nangarhar and Herat by foreign troops. Sixty out of over 90 people killed in air strike in Shindand district of Herat last month were children, said the statement. The casualties were caused mostly by clashes in residential areas and bombing of the civilian targets after the Taliban take shelter there or foreign troops got suspected of it, added the statement.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the U.N. special representative for children in armed conflict: "I can't think of any country in the world in which children suffer more than in Afghanistan.... 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."
CNN, Aug.7, 2008

The organization also condemned the Taliban for burning schools, threatening schoolchildren and their teachers and depriving them of education. ACPO asked the Taliban to reopen schools and let children continue their classes. More than 300 schools have been closed and as many burnt by unidentified armed men believed to be Taliban in the last three years mostly in southern provinces.

Earlier in July, Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said while visiting Kabul that the conflict had killed, maimed and affected an increasing number of children in recent years, she said. She said Afghan children were in the worst conditions in the world.

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