By Iqra Nasir
Every single child born and raised in Afghanistan had only known life in a country affected by war. Imagine, you turned 18 and all you know is conflict and war because this what you have witnessed since years. The fifth report of the UN Secretary-General on “Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan” released in 2021 against the backdrop of the collapsing security and political situation in Afghanistan highlights the plight of hundreds of children who have been killed or maimed in the recent weeks. Although figures are merely estimates in the case of Afghanistan but still, the report highlights that 5,770 boys and girls have been killed and maimed in Afghanistan between January 2019 to December 2020. Furthermore, child casualties for the first half of 2021 constituted the highest number of children killed and maimed for this period ever recorded by the UN in Afghanistan.
The United Nations verified 6,473 grave violations against 6,131 children during the two-year reporting period (2020-2021). Attacks on schools and hospitals were the second most prevalent grave violation with 297 verified incidents. The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict said, “Afghanistan continues to be one of the most dangerous places for a child to live and grow. I am appalled by the continuing and rising high levels of violence endured by children in Afghanistan, including those caught up in combat. I urge the Taliban and all other parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as well as by national commitments and protect the lives and rights of all people, including those of women and girls.”
According to the 2021 report by World Health Organisation (WHO), a million Afghan children are at risk of dying because of acute malnutrition. “Around 3.2 million children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Afghanistan, with 1 million of them at risk of dying as temperatures drop,” the report said. The report further highlights that, Aid agencies have already warned of famine as a drought coincides with an already failing economy following the withdrawal of Western financial funding in the aftermath of a Taliban takeover. The health sector has been hit especially hard, with many healthcare workers fleeing due to unpaid salaries.
It is incumbent upon the international community to make concerted humanitarian efforts to save Afghan children from suffering acute malnutrition and violence. They have already faced a lot of mental trauma in all these conflict years. Moreover, the international community should support state structures and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan government in order to ensure the continuity of an organized system to ensure the emancipation of plight of Afghani children.
Life in Afghanistan always meant living in daily fear of explosions, missing educational institutes because they are too unsafe and not knowing if your parents or siblings will make it home. Today, it is more about malnutrition, sustainability, growth, famine and again few violent elements. The world should listen to the plight of Afghani children.
Iqra Nasir is an Islamabad-based journalist