AT-KABUL: UNICEF urged for more investment in meeting the basic needs of Afghan children’s education and health on Friday.
Welcoming the commitments made by the international donors at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, the UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, Jean Gough said that investing in children’s education and other services would help address poverty and other issues that are driving so many families – including children — to leave the country.
“Together with the rest of the international community, UNICEF will play a full part in building a safer, more stable Afghanistan for its people and especially its children,” said Jean Gough.
According to a media statement of the UNICEF, over a decade of armed conflict prompted 2.7 million Afghans to leave their country by the end of 2015, half of them children. Last year alone, 45,000 unaccompanied children from Afghanistan sought asylum in the European Union.
“We welcome the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan and the European Union to respect the rights of migrant and refugee children under international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Ms Gough.
According to UNICEF, any decision concerning a child should only be taken after trained personnel have assessed what is in his or her best interest, identifying any protection risks or harm they face if they are returned. For this, timely and child-specific country-of-origin information is needed.
“During the return process, children should not be detained and adequate reception facilities must be in place. Returning children to institutional care is not a long-term solution,” she said.
She said that UNICEF is working closely with the Afghan government on initiatives that help meet the basic needs of children. A comprehensive child law is ready for adoption, while a Citizen’s Charter, guaranteeing minimum health, nutrition, water and other basic services for children and their families will be implemented.
“A new education strategy prioritizes the needs of out-of-school girls, while a birth registration system and other child protection services are other priorities that will help build a more resilient Afghanistan,” she said.
UNICEF has welcomed the commitment made by donors attending this week’s Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, which promised the country more than $15 billion in assistance over the coming four years.