Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, June 24th, 2021

On the Plight of Afghan Children

Children in Afghanistan live under extreme circumstances. Child labor, beggars, and sex abuse are so common. Three decades of war has affected children the worst. An entire generation was deprived of education.Even today, insurgency and poverty hit children the most. We hear reports of attacks on school children on routine basis. Large numbers of children die each year due to malnutrition. Infant mortality rate is at worst in the world. The situation is worsened with deplorable health condition, nutrition and food insecurity, lack of schools and physical violence.

Sexual violence against children is very common. Child sex-abuse cases occur, but mostly go unreported. In most of the cases we come to know that the rapists have fled the scene or could not be arrested. Mostly such cases are not reported and registered as a matter of honor of the family members of raped children.

At least 50 battlefield reports by U.S. military officers since March 2010 list cases of children used in combat by the Taliban. The Taliban fighters are minimizing risk to themselves by directly exposing children to danger.

They turn the most vulnerable into weapons and send them into lethal situations, knowing that they have no chance of survival. Taliban's horrific exploitation of children is not limited to combat zones. The militants are fitting children with explosive vests and sending them to their targets at checkpoints or police vehicles.

Afghanistan under the Karzai Administration has signed many international agreements and resolutions. In 2003, the Government signed Convention on Child Rights and Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

But we have seen how effective has been the Government in meeting the obligations to those international agreements. Children have been one of the worst victims of war in Afghanistan, either in the insurgency used as regular fighters by Taliban and other insurgents, or becoming the victims of military battles between the international and Afghan troops and insurgents.

Today a large number of beggars in Kabul are children. According to a recent UNICEF report, there are 4000 street children begging in the streets of Kabul. The official statistics say there are about 60000 beggars in Kabul. After that UNICEF report in 2008, Government planned to eradicate beggars from the streets of Kabul. President Karzai announced establishment of a commission led by Vice President Karim Khalili. It said the beggars, mostly women and children, would be rounded up in next three months then.

But now after more than three years time, the number of beggars has increased, and nobody know what happened to that commission and its plan. Their idea of rounding up the beggars was not a viable solution.  

With the increasing poverty and skyrocketing price hike and food insecurity, that's impossible. Previously Government had announced to pick up women beggars providing them any professional skill to earn their livelihood.

But even that has not been effective and there is no reduction in number of beggars in Kabul alone. Insecurity and poverty are the prime factors behind the increasing number of beggars. There are a considerable number of families headed by children—solely responsible for livelihood of the family.

Child rights are widely violated across the country. People with extreme religious mindset do not allow girls to go schools. Today half of the 15 million Afghan children are deprived of education. There are at least 200,000 children in Afghanistan with disability.

The Government and International community should pay attention to the most deprived segment of war-ravaged Afghan society.