KABUL - Recognizing the progress made by the Afghan Government to prevent the recruitment and use of children in the National Security Forces, a top UN official renewed the world body’s pledge to support Afghanistan to further protect children in the country.
“We cannot build sustainable peace if we don’t address the needs of children and if we don’t seriously protect them,” said Leila Zerrougui, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, at a press conference in Kabul.
Ms. Zerrougui is visiting Afghanistan to assess the situation of children affected by armed conflict. The Special Representative has met with Afghan authorities, the diplomatic community, and other national and international partners to assess progress and challenges regarding the protection of young Afghans and to ensure the full implementation of the government’s Action Plan.
In 2011, Afghanistan signed an Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in its national security forces.
“We have the same goal; we would like to give hope to the children of Afghanistan,” said Ms. Zerrougui, who expressed appreciation that Afghan authorities have acknowledged the problem and are working with partners to address it.
“This means that half of the work is done,” said Ms. Zerrougui, stressing that the UN and Afghan authorities are committed to seeing the Afghan security forces delisted from the annexes of the report of the UN Secretary General on Children in Armed conflict.
Hekmat Karzai, Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, also spoke at the event, saying that the government is committed to aligning with the provisions of international human rights instruments, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the resolutions of the UN aimed at upholding and realizing children’s rights.
“The Government of Afghanistan calls on the United Nations to consider the withdrawal of the Afghan National Police and the Afghan Local Police from the annexes of the Secretary General’s annual report on children and armed conflict,” said Mr. Karzai, who described the many efforts the country is undertaking to protect children.
These efforts, supported by UNAMA, UNICEF and other UN entities, include the development of a law criminalizing underage recruitment and use in Afghan security forces, the adoption of national age assessment guidelines, and the preparation of progress reports on the implementation of the government’s Action Plan.