Child protection in Afghanistan conflict faces challenge in 2010
KABUL - Children continue to suffer from the armed conflict in Afghanistan with at least 345 killed last year according to the latest report released by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The 2009 annual report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan notes that women and children are vulnerable victims from air strikes, house-raids, suicide and improvised explosive devices (IED) attacks.
“2009 has proven to be the worst year since the fall of the Taliban regime for civilians caught up in the armed conflict. The conflict has intensified and spread into areas that were previously considered safe,” said Norah Niland, UNAMA’s Chief Human Rights Officer, when the report was published last week.
In 2009 major incidents involving deadly attacks on children included:
97 civilians including 31 girls were killed by an air strike in Bala Baluk, Farah province on 4 May 2009 according to Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC);
Four children were among 10 killed, as a result of two explosions in Khost city on 22 June.
And 74 civilians, including many children, were killed by an air strike on 4 September in Kunduz province.
Also in 29 September some 30 civilians including many children were killed by improvised explosive devices in Maywand District, in Kandahar province.
Following an incident at the end of December 2009 when eight school boys were killed during a raid by Afghan and international military forces in the Narang district of Kunar province, the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Kai Eide, appealed to all of the armed actors to “distinguish between civilians and combatants”.
As well as being victims of air strikes, suicide attacks and roadside bombings, Afghan children have also been recruited and illegally detained by armed groups.
In some situations children are being used as human shields, foot soldiers or even trained by the Taliban as suicide bombers.
The detention and ill-treatment of minors allegedly associated with armed groups by pro-government military forces also remains a concern, according to the UNAMA Protection of Civilians Report.
The report revealed children have been detained for extended periods of time in government detention centres without due process.
It also states that children have suffered from ill-treatment in some cases.
According to the report: “12-years old Mohammed Jawad, was arrested for allegedly throwing a hand-grenade at a US military vehicle in 2001 and was released in July 2009 from Guantanamo. During the detention, he suffered cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since his release, the authorities have failed to provide proper support for his reintegration.”
In addition to being the direct victims of the conflict, women and children have been denied access to basic services.
“Children are often disproportionately affected due to the increasing insecurity resulting in many schools, clinics and other services being disrupted. It is a priority that the local population, and the future of Afghanistan that are her children, are allowed to enjoy an adequate standard of living in a safe environment," said Ms Niland.
By Kangying Guo, UNAMA