The never-ending cycle of violence and conflict which is ongoing for the past forty years has undoubtedly taken its toll on our acutely vulnerable class of society – the children. A recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that an average of nine children were killed or maimed on a daily basis in the first nine months of 2019. This data showed an 11 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018. A surge in suicide bomb attacks and ground engagements between pro- and anti-government forces was largely to blame. Moreover, at least 631 children were killed and another 1,830 injured in Afghanistan during the same period, according to the UNICEF’s Afghanistan representative, Dr. Aboubacar Kampo.
Sadly, the essential services provided to them are also not satisfactory because children aren’t safe there. Reportedly, in 2018, there were no less than 162 verified attacks on schools, hospitals and their staff. This is while these are supposed to be the safest places for children but are not. As 2018 was declared the worst year for children in Afghanistan, this year is seemingly going to break that record because the figures of civilians killed and maimed between January and September this year is already 94% of the total 2018 numbers. These appalling figures show how lack of security continues to threaten Afghanistan’s beleaguered children. On the other hand, poverty is yet another problem that they are enduring. It’s because economic impoverishment is the key issue resulted in making them be prone to violence; recruitment into armed groups; unsafe migration; various forms of exploitation; and abuse, a case in point of which is the last month’s report revealing a pedophile ring sexually abusing schoolboys.
All in all, Afghan children have suffered, through no fault of their own, in the worst possible way during the ongoing conflict, which has lasted more than a generation. The onus for children’s safety should now be shifted onto all stakeholders – including the government, civil society, communities, warring parties, and families – who should discharge their humanitarian duty in this regard. Moreover, children’s rights champions should make further impressive strides in improving children’s lives. Given this horrible situation when the fighting is still raging, peace is an issue of vital importance because merely in a peaceful environment, they would be better off. As peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban have been recently resumed, the parties should shun their all-or-nothing approach and agree to a truce, especially the Taliban. According to recent reports, as the American officials have called for a 10-day ceasefire and “threatened to call off talks,” the insurgents should consent to this temporary truce to set the stage for a peace agreement, as well as show their goodwill with regard to bringing peace to the country. The parties into conflict should pay serious attention to protecting children and shielding them from the collateral damage of conflict. They should sincerely make peace for the sake of children by regarding them the pillars of Afghanistan’s future and existence, as well as an overwhelmingly youthful population with treasures of energies and ambitions. Otherwise, with these generations of war-like mindsets being constantly imparted to children, Afghanistan would gradually fade into oblivion.