|A young woman holds her daughter in the courtyard of their home in Vakil Monn village, located in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. The village is currently occupied by military forces.|
By Farida Ayari
KABUL, Afghanistan, 21 July 2010 – The Government of Afghanistan has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting children affected by the ongoing conflict here through the establishment of a Steering Committee that will address and respond to grave violations against children.
The Steering Committee on Children in Armed Conflict was inaugurated on 18 July. It consists of representatives of eight key ministries – Foreign Affairs, Defense, Interior Affairs, Justice, Health, Social Affairs, Education and Women’s Affairs – plus the National Directorate of Security and a senior representative of the President’s office.
President Hamid Karzai approved the establishment of the Steering Committee, which demonstrates a strong, high-level commitment to preventing and addressing violations against children amidst armed conflict.
Resources for taking action
Noting that the work of this committee has only just begun, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Peter Crowley said its next essential step will be to develop an action plan, “and then to ensure that these plans do not remain only on paper, but are fully implemented across the country – and that adequate resources are made available for this purpose.”
|Girls attend an informal school outside a mosque in the Mian Poshteh Bazaar, a former trading centre for opium and weapons in Helmand province, Afghanistan.|
The Steering Committee will be supported by the UN-led Afghanistan Country Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict, which is composed of UNICEF, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and two international non-governmental organizations.
Monitoring and reporting
The International Committee of the Red Cross acts as an observer to the Country Task Force, whose single most important role is to receive and verify reports of violations from the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism established in Afghanistan in August 2008 under Security Council Resolutions 1612 and 1882 on Children in Armed Conflict.
The violations covered by these resolutions include recruitment and use of child soldiers, killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access to children.
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