Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Rise in Children Casualties

It is never justified that civilians lose their lives in different sorts of clashes. Wherever, there are conflicts and wars it is of utmost importance that civilians must be guarded against harms. Unfortunately, that does not happen and there are many civilians who lose their lives in different parts of the world each year. And, among them there are many women and children.
Afghanistan is also one of the countries where the lives of the civilians are at risk because of the prevailing insecurity in different parts of the country. And each year there are thousands of people who lose their lives because of different incidents. Only, last year (2015), more than 11,000 people became the victim, including over 3,500 deaths and almost 7,500 injuries.
The year 2016 is no different (overall, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan ‘UNAMA’ documented 1,943 civilian casualties – 600 deaths and 1,343 injured – between January 1 and March 31, 2016, a two-percent increase since the same period in 2015). The circumstances clearly show a rise in insecurity, and intensification in fighting has already started and the civilians are effected the worse, which otherwise should not be the case. As suggested by Nicholas Haysom, the head of UNAMA, “Even if a conflict intensifies, it does not have to be matched by corresponding civilian suffering provided parties take their international humanitarian law and human rights obligations seriously. Failure to respect humanitarian obligations will result in more suffering in a nation that has suffered enough.” However, insecurity haunts civilians and children as usual make an alarming percentage (one-third) of the overall casualties. According to a report by UNAMA at least 161 children have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2016. It’s a 29-percent of increase compared to the first three months of 2015. UNAMA recorded 610 children casualties – 161 deaths and 449 injured.
Danielle Bell, human rights director of UNAMA said in a statement, “If the fighting persists near schools, playgrounds, homes and clinics, and parties continue to use explosive weapons in those areas – particularly mortars and IED tactics, these appalling numbers of children killed and maimed will continue.”
UNAMA also noted that ground engagements caused the highest number of child casualties, followed by unexploded ordinance and IEDs. It said in its statement, “UNAMA notes with extreme concern that increased fighting in populated areas continues to kill and injure women and children at higher rates than the general population.”
It is very unfortunate to see the innocent children become the victim of war and violence. Mostly, Taliban insurgents are responsible for the deaths of poor children. They, otherwise, claim to be the protector of the rights of the people but their actions show otherwise. It is really important that they should at least observe Islamic ethics in their actions. Islam clearly says that the lives of the civilians and particularly of the children must be secured in every sort of war or clash.
Apart from these incidents of violence there are many other ways through which violence is practiced against children. They are recruited by Taliban as ‘fighters’ and mostly as suicide bombers. There have been many incidents of suicide attacks in different parts of the country, wherein the attacker were below 16 years of age.
Recruitment of the children by militants ultimately results in violence against children and their abuse. The attitude of a trained militant clearly depicts the fact that the training sessions in their training camps do involve severe kind of violence and maltreatment. There have been certain incidents wherein the trainees of such camps have made confessions about the way they are treated. They disclosed that they were beaten and tortured and even raped by their tutors.

Another type of violence includes the killing and maiming of the children because of the conflict-related violence. This also includes accidental killings or injuries by the national and international security forces, which, though relatively are much lower than the ones committed by the terrorists. Unfortunately, most of the deaths or injuries in this regard have been the result of the violent attacks of the terrorists on schools and hospitals. Such attacks do not only take precious lives but tend to inflict fear among parents and children regarding attending schools. The security of the children against all sort of violence and their proper nourishment are the most important considerations to contemplate on, if the government is really serious to safeguard the rights of the children. The same children are going to be the builders of future; their proper care should be ascertained through every possible means. Apart from the government the members of the society can also play a tremendous role in diminishing violence against the children by safeguarding their children from the terrorists and their evil intentions. Particularly, they can rescue their children from extremism and terrorism if they keep them away from extreme religious conditioning and do not let them become the cadre for insurgency and violence.