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Afghan children at crossroads; UN reveals escalating risks amidst lack of services

AT News

KABUL – Children in Afghanistan are facing heightened risks due to limited access to essential services, as per a recent UN report highlighted by the United Nations Secretary-General. Despite a decrease in severe violations, Afghan children continue to grapple with increased vulnerabilities following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.

The ongoing conflict, displacement, poverty, and natural disasters have disrupted children’s access to crucial services, leading to a surge in grave violations. These violations include recruitment for combat, instances of sexual violence, school dropouts, and unsafe migration. Of particular concern is the indefinite suspension of girls’ secondary and tertiary education by the Taliban, contributing to increased exposure to violence and harmful practices like child marriage and domestic abuse.

The report, covering the period from January 2021 to December 2022, documented 4,519 grave violations against 3,545 children, with the Taliban being the primary responsible party. The most prevalent violations were killing and maiming, along with the denial of humanitarian access. This situation is further exacerbated by a decree prohibiting Afghan women from working with NGOs and the U.N.

Highlighting the alarming number of children recruited for combat, the report expresses concern, emphasizing the Taliban’s refusal to recognize international standards defining a child as anyone under 18 years old. While efforts to engage with the Taliban have shown some progress, such as decrees banning child recruitment and the establishment of a Reform Commission for demobilizing minors, Virginia Gamba, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, urges the Taliban to adopt more concrete child protection measures. Recognizing the long-term benefits for peace and stability in Afghanistan, she emphasizes the need for sustained action to safeguard the well-being of Afghan children.

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