Students use theatre performance to highlight dangers of conflict to kids

9 May 2019

Students use theatre performance to highlight dangers of conflict to kids

TASHQORGHAN – The dangers of violent extremism and the impact of conflict on children were spotlighted in a theatre performance by students in the northern city of Tashqorghan.

For the more than 300 students and teachers of Khulm District Boys High School, it was a different kind of learning when the school’s drama group re-enacted the daily lives and struggles of young people impacted by conflict. Using the power of story-telling, the performers delivered a compelling performance aimed at heightening awareness of the dangers of violent extremism and helping their peers to make meaningful decisions about their lives.

The performance was part of a broader UNAMA-backed outreach and awareness programme engaging students, educational authorities, community elders and security officials – on protecting children during armed conflict.

“We don’t want to fight, we want education,” said Ahmad Feraidon, a student, in reaction to the performance. “We have endured enough violence.”

Among the audience was Hayatullah Rahimi, a religious scholar who said religious teachings forbid the use and abuse of children during conflict. “Using children in armed conflicts is against Islamic teachings,“ he said during a discussion after the drama performance. He appealed to parents and communities to protect children through education while calling for an end to the conflict.

Children and young people account for an inordinate number of casualties from Afghanistan’s protracted war. The impact has been wide-reaching and devastating; thousands have been killed, maimed, dropped out of school, are displaced, live in poverty and face a bleak future.

The northern region has in recent years experienced growing insurgent activities, consequently leaving many children susceptible to abduction, abuse, extremism and forced recruitment.

Last month, the Government of Afghanistan launched the Law on Protection of Child Rights adding to a string of other legislation such as the 2011 Joint Action Plan for the Prevention of Underage Recruitment signed together with the UN. In 2014, the government’s Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict endorsed a 15-point roadmap toward compliance with the action plan, drafted jointly by the Afghan Government and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF and UNAMA.

In 2015, the government enacted a law criminalizing the recruitment and use of children in the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. The revised Penal Code, which entered into force in February 2018, criminalizes the recruitment and use of children in military units and bacha bazi, a harmful practice whereby boys are exploited by powerful men for entertainment, particularly dancing and sexual activities.

Child protection is an integral part of UNAMA’s human rights work and mandate. Earlier this year, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict launched a campaign ACT to Protect Children Affected by Conflict.

In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation.

UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.