Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Afghan Children Suffer Great Challenges

The vulnerability of children to social ills, violence and terror is an undeniable fact. Their rights are widely trampled upon and their blood is spilt in terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in every nook and cranny. Children – who are supposed to attend school with a peace of mind and high hopes – bear the brunt of challenges in Afghanistan. They are recruited by the Taliban fighters with the barrel of gun or simply to survive financial pressure. Social and economic deprivations fill them with a strong sense of vengeance and hatred. Therefore, some join terrorist groups to vent their anger and hatred via killing their human fellows.
In a recent report, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said by 2030, as many as 69 million children could die from “preventable causes” before the age of five if political leaders fail to address global inequality. The report - State of the World’s Children 2016 - said children are affected “disproportionately” by violent conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters, as well as health crises. It added that 167 million children face poverty and 750 million could become child brides globally unless action is stepped up. 
Denying hundreds of millions of children a fair chance in life does more than threaten their futures. By fuelling inter-generational cycles of disadvantage, it imperils the future of their societies,” Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s executive director, is cited as saying. “We have a choice: Invest in these children now, or allow our world to become still more unequal and divided.”
While millions of Afghan children have returned to school following the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001, tens of thousands of school-age youngsters, restricted by economic hardship, must still work on the streets of the Afghan capital, Kabul, to sustain their families. In another item, a large number of Afghan children abandon the idea of going to school and their childhood ambitions for an ideal future turn to ash. Falling into deep disappointment, they see a pitch dark future ahead. Scores of Afghan kids take their wish for literacy to the grave with them. Children are forced to support their families by working long hours and are often subject to exploitation and abuse. Conflict as well as the effects of poverty caused widespread displacement. Six million school-age children are engaged in labor. About 60,000 are begging in the streets of Kabul alone, mostly forced to deliver their day's earnings to petty urban gangs. Abject poverty compels many parents to consent. After all, each year, hundreds of children die in armed hostilities, air strikes, suicide attacks, car bombs, or land mines.
Afghan children suffer not only from terror and poverty – which make them labor from dawn to dusk – but also from discrimination and social ills. In other words, it is not only their rights which are violated but their honor and dignity are also outraged in some ways. To one’s unmitigated chagrin, some children fall victim to rape and sexual harassments and their physical weakness is considered a weak point in our society.
To view it historically, it was during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s that children began to fall at the mercy of war and its multidimensional miseries. The indiscriminate bombing of villages, disappearance of children from high schools for suspicion of ties with the resistance movement and forced conscriptions on both sides of the war were common.
It is generally believed that about 50,000 children, mostly orphans, were sent to the Soviet Union in the 1980s to be indoctrinated in Marxism.
The ordeals that Afghan children endured in refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran during the Afghan-Soviet war are well documented in various human rights and humanitarian assistance organizations’ reports.
Conflict in the past decade has caused about 28,000 civilian deaths and more than 100,000 injuries. Considering that nearly 70 percent of the Afghan population is under the age of 25, this demographic has been affected significantly. Based on Human Rights Watch research, the Taliban have been training and deploying children for a range of military operations including the production and planting of improvised explosive devices (IED). In Kunduz province, the Taliban have used madrasahs as hotbed of terror and to provide military training to teenagers many of whom have been deployed in combat. It is said that there are now 1,300 unregistered madrasahs in Afghanistan, where children are given only religious teaching. This is increasing fears among those involved in mainstream education. The great motive behind the children’s willingness to join armed militants is the radical indoctrination. They are bred and trained in the hotbed of fundamentalism and, therefore, radical ideas are deeply embedded in their minds.

For combating terrorism, the world needs to launch an emergency global education effort now, said US Secretary of State John Kerry who was speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, on Tuesday.“We have to invest in education. I can’t emphasize this enough ... 120 million children and adolescents are out of school ... they need to go to school now.” He added, “We have to ensure that kids everywhere actually have schools to go, that schools do not preach hate and radical views, but they offer and prepare them for a better life.” The government has to facilitate the children to continue their education in a healthy environment and alleviate their financial problems so that they could get rid of the pain and sufferings.