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UN urges Taliban to stop use of child soldiers

AT News

KABUL – The United Nations has issued a compelling call to the Taliban, urging them to acknowledge individuals below 18 as children and cease their recruitment into security forces. The UN expressed deep concern about the vulnerability of Afghan children, highlighting a disturbing trend of violence against them.

In a report unveiled on Friday, the UN disclosed alarming statistics, revealing 4,519 reported cases of violence against 3,545 children between 2021 and 2022 in Afghanistan. The Taliban emerged as the primary perpetrator, challenging the international definition of a child as someone under 18. The group, instead, considers physical signs of puberty as the defining factor.

Despite some actions by the Taliban, such as a decree against child recruitment, the UN emphasized that the group has not fully integrated child protection into its governance agenda. Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, urged the Taliban to prioritize child-related issues and incorporate protective measures.

Following their return to power, the Taliban pledged to remove underage individuals from their ranks. However, the UN pointed out the lack of an effective child protection mechanism, resulting in children facing national security charges and allegations of affiliations with opposing forces.

Gamba stressed the importance of the Taliban recognizing anyone under 18 as a child to discourage further military recruitment. The report underscored the urgent need for funding, drawing attention to Afghan children as frequent victims of landmine incidents and emphasizing the critical importance of education and increased investment in children’s safety and rights.

The UN’s report serves as a poignant plea for global support to eliminate explosive threats, offering a stark reminder of the dire circumstances faced by Afghan children and the necessity to address their well-being.

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