UN: Afghan children used as child soldiers

2016-02-17 18:01
Leila Zerrougui. (AFP)

Leila Zerrougui. (AFP)

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Kabul - The United Nations on Wednesday condemned all sides in Afghanistan's conflict for using child soldiers, noting that while government forces have reduced the number of under-age recruits, insurgent groups continue to train large numbers of fighters under the age of 18.

The Afghan government had made progress on the issue, said Leila Zerrougui, special representative of the UN Secretary General for children and armed conflict. However, she added that Afghan Local Police - who often operate independently from central oversight and have been widely criticised as unprofessional and corrupt - are major perpetrators of child recruitment among Afghan forces.

Insurgent groups recruited more children in areas where the fighting is fiercest, she said. The Taliban, who have been fighting the government for over 15 years, mainly recruit children in provinces bordering Pakistan, she added.

The border with Pakistan is long and porous, and Pakistan's government has been accused of protecting and supporting Taliban fighters while using the group to fight a proxy war.

The Pakistani authorities have denied connections with the insurgent group, and have levelled similar accusations at Afghanistan's government.

Zerrougui spoke to reporters a day after the New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Taliban forces of boosting the number of children in their ranks since the middle of last year, in violation of international laws against the use of child soldiers.

The report said insurgents "have been training and deploying children for various military operations" in Afghanistan, including making and deploying bombs.

It found that children between the ages of 13 and 17 were given military training in madrassas, or religious schools

The use of child soldiers is illegal in Afghanistan, which ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, committing the country to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Read more on:    taliban  |  pakistan  |  afghanistan  |  war

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