Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Alarming Rise in Child Casualties

As the war and insecurity continue in Afghanistan, civilians suffer the most; particularly the weaker among them, like women and children. Children are undoubtedly the most innocent and their lives must be protected and safeguarded the most. The parties in the conflict must ensure that they take care of the lives of children and take necessary measures to avoid any child casualty. However, that does not seem to be the case in Afghanistan and many children lose their lives every year.
According to a recent report by United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), only in the first nine months of this year, 2,461 child casualties (639 deaths and 1,822 injured) were documented, which shows a 15 percent increase as compared to the same period in 2015, though the overall security situation in the first three quarters of 2016 show a one percent decreased as compared to the same period in 2015.
The report revealed that more than half of all child casualties in 2016 were caused by ground engagements. It also showed that the intensification of ground fighting is directly related to the increase in civilian casualties from ERW, or unexploded ordnance.
UNAMA documented 510 civilian casualties (160 deaths and 350 injured), a 67 per cent increase from the same period in 2015. According to a statement by Danielle Bell, UNAMA Human Rights Director, “Eighty-four percent of victims from unexploded ordnance were children. All parties must systematically track, mark and clear unexploded ordinance in order to protect current and future generations of children from harm.”
Meanwhile, Giorgia Novello, medical coordinator for the Kabul Emergency Hospital said in a statement on Thursday that the number of war wounded being admitted to the hospital has increased and that 30 percent of them are children.
The recent rise in insecurity in Afghanistan clearly depicts that it would be very difficult to protect the innocent children from the horrors of war and destruction. Though as Nicholas Haysom, the head of UNAMA had once suggested, “Even if a conflict intensifies, it does not have to be matched by corresponding civilian suffering provided parties take their international humanitarian law and human rights obligations seriously. Failure to respect humanitarian obligations will result in more suffering in a nation that has suffered enough.” However, the ongoing conflicts are mostly insensitive to such thoughts and emotions.
It is also important to mention that mostly Taliban insurgents are responsible for the deaths of poor children. They, otherwise, claim to be the protector of the rights of the people but their actions show otherwise. It is really important that they should at least observe Islamic ethics in their actions. Islam clearly says that the lives of the civilians and particularly of the children must be secured in every sort of war or clash. However, Taliban do not seem to be following the true teaching of Islam.
Apart from these incidents of violence there are many other ways through which violence is practiced against children. They are recruited by Taliban as ‘fighters’ and mostly as suicide bombers. There have been many incidents of suicide attacks in different parts of the country, wherein the attacker were below 16 years of age.
Recruitment of the children by militants ultimately results in violence against children and their abuse. The attitude of a trained militant clearly depicts the fact that the training sessions in their training camps do involve severe kind of violence and maltreatment. There have been certain incidents wherein the trainees of such camps have made confessions about the way they are treated. They disclosed that they were beaten and tortured and even raped by their tutors.
Another type of violence includes the killing and maiming of the children because of the conflict-related violence. This also includes accidental killings or injuries by the national and international security forces, which, though relatively are much lower than the ones committed by the terrorists. Unfortunately, most of the deaths or injuries in this regard have been the result of the violent attacks of the terrorists on schools and hospitals. Such attacks do not only take precious lives but tend to inflict fear among parents and children regarding attending schools. The security of the children against all sort of violence and their proper nourishment are the most important considerations to contemplate on, if the government is really serious to safeguard the rights of the children. The same children are going to be the builders of future; their proper care should be ascertained through every possible means. Apart from the government the members of the society can also play a tremendous role in diminishing violence against the children by safeguarding their children from the terrorists and their evil intentions. Particularly, they can rescue their children from extremism and terrorism if they keep them away from extreme religious conditioning and do not let them become the cadre for insurgency and violence.