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Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Security Council Debate on Children and Armed Conflict
Allow me to begin by expressing my delegation’s gratitude to Viet Nam’s Presidency for convening today’s meeting on Children and Armed Conflict. This meeting provides an opportunity to renew our strong commitment in ensuring the protection and rights of children in armed conflict as well as reviewing progress made in this respect.
We would also like to express our appreciation to Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General for children and armed conflict, for her visit to Afghanistan and comprehensive statement.
All children have the same needs and share the same dreams; they represent the future of our societies and mirror the state they live in. The Government of Afghanistan is still making efforts to rebuild its country devastated by 30 years of war which dramatically affected the lives of our children, particularly girls. The major victims of the war in Afghanistan are our children; years of conflict in our country have destroyed basic necessities of life such as schools, health care, adequate shelter, water and food, as well as disrupted family relationships. It has also created stigma and post traumatic distress, generated a spirit of pessimistic outlook about their future.
Afghanistan is strongly committed to reversing the impact of war on children and fulfilling its obligation towards the protection of children. The improvement of the situation of Afghan children and comprehensive protection of their rights is an essential precondition for the sustainable development of our state. It will also lay a solid foundation for our next generation to live in peace, prosperity and enjoy their human rights. Our vision for ensuring the protection and well being of our children is to develop an environment which provides security, guarantee economic and social opportunities and respect the rule of law.
We have achieved considerable progress towards improving the status of children since 2001. Nevertheless today we are facing critical security challenges that jeopardize the gains made in the past 7 years and undermine our collective efforts in improving the living conditions of our children towards a promising and bright future.
Terrorism constitutes a major threat and drastically affects the daily lives of our people particularly children. The deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan is the product of the surge of terrorist activities carried out by Al Qaida, Taliban and other associated armed groups. Terrorists have increased attacks in our territory, using barbaric acts and methods including the use of car bombs, suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices directed at national and international forces. These attacks deliberately target densely populated areas where children are the prime victims.
The Taliban are using the most atrocious practice conceivable to conduct their subversive operations. Terrorists are recruiting, training, exploiting children as combatants and sending them to operate as suicide bombers. As Afghan and international security forces become more alerted at recognizing suicide attackers, children are used because they are not generally suspected. It also forms an effective instrument of psychological warfare as the specter of the “child attacker” is as terrifying as it incomprehensible.
The intensification of Taliban intimidation campaign through burning of schools and clinics, disseminating of threatening night notes, attacking of teachers, and school-children has created an atmosphere of terror and traumatizes children from going to schools and ruin their future. Furthermore, it undermines our efforts in achieving development goals aimed at improving the living conditions of our citizens including children and provides a gloomy future for our people.
The state of hopelessness resulting from years of living in conflict and from poor socio – economical conditions, supported by the brainwash indoctrination provided in madrasas across our borders are creating favorable conditions for recruitment and training of innocent children to target a wide spectrum of Afghan and international civilian and military personnel. We are deeply concerned about the loss of rising number of children killed and injured by the Taliban and other terrorist foreign groups.
We would also like to express our grave concern about the loss of lives and injuries of children during counter-terrorism operations, In that regard, we call on our international partners to exercise maximum caution and enhance coordination with Afghan security forces during operations to avoid the loss of civilian life and ensure the safety and physical integrity of children.
The protection of children in armed conflict is one of the most daunting humanitarian and security challenges facing the International Community today. Addressing the socio economic needs of children in armed conflict and ensuring their rights requires an integrated strategy with a special focus on poverty alleviation especially among the most vulnerable segment of our society including widows and orphans. Successful implementation of such a strategy requires full cooperation and coordination between the Government of Afghanistan and development partners as well as the United Nations agencies. We would like to call on all donor countries and development agencies to assist us achieve sustainable development, poverty eradication, and good governance.
Thank you Mr. President.