9 Jan 2010

Conflict killing three children a day in Afghanistan

9:09 pm on 9 January 2010

At least three children were killed in Afghanistan every day last year, according to a new report by a human-rights watchdog group.

The Afghanistan Rights Monitor, an independent group set up in Kabul in 2008, says 2009 was the deadliest year for Afghan children since the United States-led invasion in 2001.

The group says that more than 1050 children aged under 18 were killed in bombings, roadside explosions and crossfire during the year. That makes them the biggest victims of the war in Afghanistan, the ABC reports.

Taliban-linked militants caused around 64% of all violent child deaths last year, the Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) says.

Children were also pressganged, sexually exploited, deprived of health and education and illegally detained by all sides in a war that is dragging into its ninth year.

Taliban did 'more harm' than other side

The Taliban "reportedly caused more harm and intentionally abused more children for illegal purposes than pro-government Afghan and international forces", the report says.

"Through a horrible anti-education policy of heinous attacks, intimidation and terror, the insurgents deprived hundreds of thousands of children, boys and girls, from education mostly in the insecure south and east of the country."

At the same time, ARM says, the Western-backed government has failed to introduce or implement laws to protect children against the abuses of war or "bring alleged criminals and abusers to justice".

ARM is calling on the Afghan authorities to set up an official child protection body and liaise with the warring parties on child rights.

According to the United Nations, civilian deaths in Afghanistan rose 10.8% in the first 10 months of 2009 - most of them attributable to the Taliban.