Monitoring of child rights violations focus of UN envoy’s visit to Afghanistan

Monitoring of child rights violations focus of UN envoy’s visit to Afghanistan

Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
The United Nations advocate for the protection of children caught up in armed conflict will leave tomorrow for a six-day visit to Afghanistan during which she will launch a system to monitor and report on violations of child rights in the battle-scarred nation.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, will be accompanied by Louis Georges Arsenault, Director of the Office of Emergency Programs in New York for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

During the visit, Ms. Coomaraswamy will inaugurate the monitoring and reporting mechanism called for by the Security Council in a resolution adopted in 2005 that called for scrutinizing six grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict.

They are the killing or maiming of children, recruitment or use of children as soldiers, rape and other grave sexual abuse of children, abduction of children, attacks against schools or hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access for children.

The mechanism has already been set up in a number of strife-torn countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Sudan.

In assessing the impact of conflict on Afghanistan’s children, the Special Representative will pay particular attention to the issues of attacks on girls’ schools, children associated with anti-Government elements, including the Taliban, and their detention for alleged association with these groups.

She is expected to take up these issues when she meets with Government officials, religious and tribal leaders, the UN Country Team, members of civil society and children affected by conflict.

Meanwhile, the top UN humanitarian official had an opportunity to learn about the various challenges related to refugee resettlement as he travelled to Jalalabad in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, on the second day of a five-day visit to the country.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes visited two sites for Afghan refugees who have returned home from Pakistan. In one site, where former refugees returned two years ago, some important basic aid has been provided, including drinking water, a school, a mosque, and shelter, thanks to the combined efforts of the Government and the aid community, according to news release issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The second site, which hosts more recent returnees, exhibited more “rudimentary conditions.” Those living there were unable to return to their areas of origin, due to lack of land, and are awaiting further assistance on the current site, which the Government has made available for them.

Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, also met with the humanitarian regional team in Jalalabad and the Governor of Nangarhar, with whom he discussed the situation of the people of Nangarhar, including that of internally displaced persons (IDPs).