Samangan community leaders gather to discuss the rights of children

13 Aug 2019

Samangan community leaders gather to discuss the rights of children

AYBAK - Participants at a UN-backed event in Afghanistan’s north committed to advocate for the rights of children and to raise awareness to protect them against abuse during the armed conflict.

More than one hundred participants, including government officials, religious scholars, women’s rights activists and Samangan youth attended the one-day forum in the province’s capital city of Aybak.

“We are a nation at war,” said Samangan governor Abdul Latif Ibrahimi. “Our children are the most vulnerable to this conflict, losing their lives, being recruited into armed groups and engaging in difficult jobs.”

Governor Ibrahimi, in opening the discussion, called on all Afghans to play their part in protecting children. “They are the future, and we all have a responsibility to protect them,” he stressed.

Samangan is one of the most restive provinces in Afghanistan’s northern region. Residents there, especially women and children, face serious challenges, as thousands of families have been displaced by the conflict, leading to many communities being deprived of access to basic education and health services, or gainful employment.

UNAMA’s 2019 Protection of Civilians Midyear Report, covering the period 1 January to 30 June 2019, recorded 3,812 civilian casualties, of which 1,207 were children (327 killed and 880 injured) representing almost one-third of the overall total number of civilian casualties recorded by UNAMA in the period.

“Don’t kill children,” said Mawlavi Abdul Basit, Samangan’s Ulema Council Secretary, citing religious teachings that strictly forbid killing, maiming or engaging children in any form of conflict. “Ulema have a moral responsibility to preach against the use of children in militancy.”

Organized by UNAMA’s Mazar regional office, the event concluded with participants jointly signing a resolution to amplify the responsibility vested in parities to the conflict and everyone else in the community to protect children from harm.

UN Security Council Resolution 1261 lists six grave violations against children in conflict: killing and maiming; recruitment or use of children as soldiers; sexual violence; abduction; attacks against schools or hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access.

UNAMA works closely with all parties to the conflict to monitor and report on any grave rights violations committed in the context of the armed conflict and to promote accountability.

UNAMA also works with various institutions and individuals, including religious leaders, provincial councils, community leaders, youth groups, women and local media stations to create platforms – using radio, social media and television – for Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.