Statement by Peter Crowley, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, on the Occasion of International Children's Day
Kabul 1 June 2011. On a day that is marked by many countries as International Children’s Day and dedicated to celebrating childhood, Afghanistan continues to be plagued by conflict and remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child.
There is intensified fighting and increased suffering now at the start of the new “fighting season" in Afghanistan, with renewed hardship for children as a result. The conflict impacts on every aspect of children’s lives.
Children and women are reported to have been killed after an airstrike in Helmand four days ago. Armed opposition groups are reportedly increasing efforts to recruit and use children as suicide bombers and on 1st May a twelve year old boy is said to have perpetrated a suicide attack in Paktia Province that resulted in four deaths. Less than a week ago, the dedicated principal of a school just outside of Kabul was killed allegedly because he refused to bow to pressure from insurgents to stop teaching girls. These and other similar incidents are of profound and ongoing concern to UNICEF.
The losses that families and children are enduring in Afghanistan make it more urgent than ever for all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to do everything possible to protect children during hostilities, as required by international humanitarian law.
It is well known that a very high potential for harm to children exists during any conflict. UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to take responsibility to ensure that the lives of children, women and other innocent civilians are protected at all times, including by changing patterns of engagement that put children in the line of fire and at risk of death and injury."