Save the Children, an aid charity organisation on Saturday noted in their report that Afghanistan is amongst the ten worst countries for children in conflict.
The report has drawn on the research by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), which is commissioned by Save the Children. It found that Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria and Somalia are the countries where children were hardest hit by conflict in 2017.
Some 420 million children (nearly one-fifth of all children worldwide) were living in conflict-affected areas in 2017— up from 30 million from 2016 – according to the study by Save the Children.
Afghanistan was found to be amongst the 10 worst conflict-affected countries to be a child in 2017, the most recent year for which data is fully available.
It was noted that ‘grave’ violations of Afghan children’s rights have increased, with one in five children living in conflict-affected areas, according to the Stop the War on Children report.
“Such children face appalling risks of injury, sexual violence, preventable diseases, mental and physical trauma, poverty, dropping out of school, recruitment by armed groups, and being trapped on the frontline without access to aid”, the study points out.
“We’ve seen an alarming deterioration in the lives of Afghan children in recent years, with thousands of them killed and injured, and millions affected by the lack of services to ensure their safety, recovery, and wellbeing,” said Onno van Manen, Save the Children Country Director in Afghanistan.
“Children must be off limits in any conflict — not a target. We are calling on Afghan authorities, armed groups, international donors, and humanitarian organisations to take practical action on the ground to stop the war on children, protect them in conflict, and support their recovery,” he added.
The report finds that children worldwide face increasing threats because combatants fail to respect international laws and treaties designed to protect civilians.
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From the use of chemical weapons to rape as a military tactic, war crimes are committed with alarming impunity.
In Afghanistan, the UN reported 3179 children killed and injured in 2017, with many more dying daily from indirect effects of conflict, including malnutrition, disease, and the breakdown of healthcare, water, and sanitation services.
Schools across Afghanistan and Yemen,l have been bombed, or are used for military purposes, turning them into targets while depriving children of education. There were 1,432 verified attacks on schools worldwide in 2017, making it one of the worst years on record for such attacks. In Afghanistan, 70 percent of the over 3.7 million out-of-school children are girls.
To address the threats to Afghan children, Save the Children called on the Afghan government and international community to take specific practical steps.
Suggestions include increasing investment in children’s protection and welfare through education, healthcare, protection, mental health, and psychosocial services.
The Afghan government and other armed actors on the ground were also recommended to implement the Safe Schools Declaration and not use the schools for political or military purposes, such as polling stations, which makes them a potential target for parties in the conflict.