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Editorial: Child soldiers—not tolerable

Children in military forces may take one of three distinct roles: children can take direct part in hostilities as child soldiers; they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, lookouts; or they can be used for political advantages as human shields or in propaganda. Throughout history and in many cultures in the world, children have been extensively involved in military campaigns even when such practices were against cultural morals. Based on record, in World War I, in Great Britain 250,000 boys under age of 18 managed to join the army. In World War II, child soldiers fought throughout Europe. But since 1970s, a number of international conventions have into effects that try to limit the participation of children in armed conflicts. However, Child Soldiers still use in military forces and their role is widespread—an illegal thing which is totally against children rights. In Afghanistan our children are also recruiting in military forces, especially by the militant groups. Since long time, the Taliban and other militant outfits have added scores of children to their ranks in violations of the international prohibition on the use of child soldiers. There is estimation that 250,000 children are fighting in wars all over the world. Recruited by force or lured by the false promises of an escape from poverty. They (children) are living a life no child should ever lead. This is totally unbearable and unacceptable, children across the world has right to life out of violence and war. Triggering children into warfare is inhuman act and unjustifiable in any laws around the globe. This practice has to be ended by any ways and means. There is no denying about the fact that Taliban insurgents have been training and planting children for various military operations including the production and plotting of improvised explosive devices (IED). The Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh terrorist group is also recruiting children. Two months ago, a suicide bomber believed to be as young as 12, carried out suicide attack in heavily fortified diplomatic quarter, killing at least five people. Daesh claimed responsibility, leaving no doubt that children had been highly recruiting by the terrorist groups. Moreover, local officials in northern Jawzjan province confirmed that 300 Afghan children are under military training of Daesh terror group. Provincial council members said most of the families handed over their children to the Daesh terrorists due to poverty. This is truly not acceptable an immediate action is the need of the hour to rescue these children. However, Afghanistan Independent Human Right Commission, Chairperson (AIHRC) Sima Samar, said that children are also recruited in the ranks of local police forces, hoping this trend comes to an end. This is a serious issue must be probed by the government. “With regards the allegations that in the past children were recruited in the structure of the local police, this problem have been identified,” Interior Minister, Wais Ahmad Barmak said. Moreover, AIHRC blamed the local armed groups who are fighting Taliban are also using children as soldiers. “Although I am aware that children are not in Afghan national security and defense forces, but unfortunately, they are used in pursing militias and local police, which is a way these forces are supporting by the government,” Samar said. Notwithstanding, this problem will be resolved soon as Defense Minister, Tariq Shah Bahrami signed an agreement to put into effect a Child Protection Policy as a big step to shield children from the worst consequences of armed conflict. According to report, the initiative is the outcome of year-long Afghan-led efforts to codify measures to provide for greater protection to children. This includes preventing the use of violence against children by involving all personnel in the Afghan National Army; it associated civilians and contractors in the Ministry of Defense. Surely, the government will take care of this issue and prevent child soldiers in its ranks of police or military. Clear intention is visible here, and with confidence, I can say this problem will be resolved in nearest time. However, it is the terrorist groups that need to renounce using children as their soldiers, which is clear violation of their rights. It is moral duty of all of us to rescue children’s lives and future and provide them opportunities to be leaders, administrators, doctors, engineers, diplomats and make them able to serve the country and humanity in every walk of life. The government institutions, regional and international community and humanitarian organizations must come to the fore to take them away from violence, reuniting them with their families, and most importantly, giving them back joys of childhood and schooled life.

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