Published on Thursday, January 7, 2010 by Agence
Afghan War Kills 3 Children a Day: Report
by Lynne O'Donnell
KABUL - Children are the biggest victims of the war in Afghanistan, with more than 1,050 people under 18 years old killed last year alone, according to an Afghan human rights watchdog.
Afghan children watch a US soldier in the mountains of Nuristan Province, December 19. Children are the biggest victims of the war in
Taliban-linked militants caused around 64 per cent of all violent child deaths last year, the
Children were also press-ganged, sexually exploited, deprived of health and education, and illegally detained by all sides in a war that is dragging into its ninth year since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime.
"At least three children were killed in war-related incidents every day in 2009 and many others suffered in diverse but mostly unreported ways," ARM director Ajmal Samadi said.
Children died in suicide attacks and roadside bombings - at the crux of the Taliban's arsenal against
The Taliban "reportedly caused more harm and intentionally abused more children for illegal purposes than pro-government Afghan and international forces," the report said.
"Through a horrible anti-education policy of heinous attacks, intimidation and terror the insurgents deprived hundreds of thousands of children, boys and girls, from education mostly in the insecure south and east of the country."
On the other hand, the Western-backed government has failed to introduce or implement laws to protect children against the abuses of war or "bring alleged criminals and abusers to justice," Samadi said.
ARM called on the Afghan authorities to set up an official child protection body and liaise with the warring parties on child rights.
The report by ARM, an independent rights monitoring group set up in Kabul in 2008, comes after the United Nations said civilian deaths in Afghanistan rose 10.8 per cent in the first 10 months of 2009, most caused by the Taliban.
The United Nations put civilian deaths at 2,038 for that period, up from 1,838 for the same period of 2008, with the vast majority killed by insurgents.
It said 468 deaths were caused by pro-government forces, including NATO and U.S.-led forces, and 166 by "other actors."
ARM released the report as a suspected roadside bomb attack killed four children and wounded more than a dozen in volatile eastern Nangahar province.
Reports that foreign forces killed eight students in Kunar province on December 26 caused widespread outrage, including
A government investigation found the teenagers were unarmed and killed in cold blood, while Western military sources said the group were armed, opened fire at foreign and Afghan forces, and were killed in self-defence.
Civilian deaths at the hands of foreign forces fuel distrust between the Afghan population, the government and U.S. and NATO troops, even though most are caused by insurgent tactics such as homemade bombs.
The Taliban regularly exploit deaths caused by foreign and Afghan forces, and Western military intelligence officials say the militants have gained the upper hand in a sophisticated propaganda war.
Militant leaders, based largely in
U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, has ordered civilian casualties be kept to a minimum, yet as more troops pour in, a higher death rate is inevitable, experts say.
© 2010 AFP
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/01/07
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs