UNICEF Afghanistan Deputy Representative, Alice Akunga Remarks
Presidential Palace, Sunday, June 20, 2021: This is a great moment for Afghanistan -- not only in the South Asia region but on the world stage. Because, today, we are gathered here to witness the launch of the Policy for the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict and Security Sectors.
This is an important step towards realizing a safe and secure environment for Afghanistan’s children. A key step towards making the Convention on the Rights of the Child a reality.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, may I, therefore, take this opportunity, on behalf of UNICEF Afghanistan, to congratulate the Government of Afghanistan on the launch of this important policy.
Our next urgent step is to turn this policy into practice – with immediate effect. In doing so, we can ensure that children are protected from the six grave violations: being killed or maimed; being abducted; recruited as child soldiers; being attacked in schools and hospitals; falling victim to sexual violence – including bacha bazi; and/or denied humanitarian support.
More important, the policy should ensure there are tools in place for reporting and redress, so that child victims of these grave violations can report and get justice. And that those committing these crimes are punished.
In other words, this is about giving back to children the childhood that is their right.
A childhood where they can learn in school safely with their friends… grow up to be healthy, active, engaged citizens…and live their full potential.
18 million children in Afghanistan need our help to live that life.
So, how do we turn policy into practice?
We do three things now and together.
First. We develop an Action Plan within 90 days of this policy being endorsed.
Second. To roll out the policy, we must fund the Action Plan through the national budget and get support from development partners.
And third. We must form a mechanism, a Joint Coordinating Committee to implement this policy and monitor the action plan, with a focus on addressing the six grave violations with confidential reporting and redress mechanisms for child victims.
Ladies and gentlemen, this policy is a strong and renewed commitment by the Government to prevent and address the six grave violations against children in armed conflict – as outlined in the United Nations Security Council resolution 1612… in the Government’s Action Plan on the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism signed in 2011…and in the Roadmap of 2014.
My plea to all of you today is: action. Let’s turn this policy into practice. So that Afghanistan’s 18 million children can, at last, enjoy their childhood and look towards a future of promise and potential.
Thank you very much.
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