UN advocate welcomes formation of committee to protect Afghan children in conflict

22 July 2010

The United Nations advocate for children during periods of armed conflict today welcomed the Afghan Government’s establishment of a committee to tackle and respond to grave violations against children in the war-wracked country.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said in a press statement that the formation of the steering committee means the Afghan Government is keeping to its earlier commitment to protect boys and girls from the ongoing conflict.

Elements of the Taliban and other rebel groups continue to fight Afghan forces and their international partners, nearly nine years after the Taliban lost power in the impoverished nation. Deliberate attacks against civilians, including children, are frequent.

The high-level committee, set up earlier this week, will consist of representatives of key government ministers as well as the national President’s office and the national directorate of security.

Ms. Coomaraswamy said the new committee “marks a first step towards a broader national engagement in protecting children from the adverse effects of the Afghan conflict – which must include the development of an action plan to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers in the Afghan national security forces.”

The Special Representative, who visited the country in February, added that she was “hopeful that the Afghan Government will take the necessary measures to ensure that its national police are removed from the Secretary-General’s list of shame.”

The police are one of six parties to the conflict in Afghanistan that were named earlier this year in a UN report identifying groups that recruit or use children during armed conflict, or kill, torture or commit sexual violence against them.

The other Afghan parties named in the report are the Haqqani network, Hezb-i-Islami, Jamat Sunat al-Dawa Salafia, Taliban forces and the Tora Bora Front.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also welcomed the formation of the committee, but its representative in Afghanistan, Peter Crowley, said that it was vital to ensure that the committee’s plans “do not remain only on paper, but are fully implemented across the country – and that adequate resources are made available for this purpose.”

 

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