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UNICEF expresses concern over reports of child abduction and trafficking in Afghanistan

Commits support for urgent action to protect children’s rights

KABUL, 25 September 2003 - The United Nations Children’s Fund today expresses its serious concern over reported incidents of abduction and trafficking of children in Afghanistan.

Reports received from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) indicate that there has been a series of abductions of children as young as four years old in northern and north-eastern regions of Afghanistan. Since early 2003, a number of children have been reportedly abducted for the apparent purpose of trafficking to neighbouring countries.

This week UNICEF has written to the Minister of Interior, His Excellency Ali Ahmad Jalali, calling for his intervention on this issue. UNICEF has requested that the maximum resources possible be made available for the investigation of reports of abductions and for the full weight of the law to be brought against those found responsible for kidnapping and trafficking of children. UNICEF also took the opportunity to congratulate local law enforcement officials in Takhar who have prevented a number of children from being trafficked out of the country.

UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Dr. Sharad Sapra said the reports “are cause for grave concern.”

“The illegal abduction and trafficking of children is contrary to several articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Afghanistan has ratified. The trafficking of children is a serious abuse of their rights and we cannot allow such an abuse to continue,” he said.

UNICEF has assured the Government of Afghanistan, and other parties engaged in the protection of children in Afghanistan, of its full support in raising awareness of this issue, training officials responsible for the protection of children, and cooperating with all actors in the monitoring and prevention of future cases of abduction and trafficking.

UNICEF has sent a child rights professional this week to the northern provinces – namely Takhar and Badakhshan – to discuss cases of trafficking, missing or reportedly kidnapped children with agencies including UNAMA, UNHCR, IOM, child-focused NGOs, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Provincial Governors, representatives of the police and Justice Departments.

In addition, UNICEF has recently supported a workshop on child trafficking led by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Participants included police officials from all 32 provinces of Afghanistan, as well as the Frontier Force from border provinces, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Kabul Juvenile Court, IOM, and the media. From this workshop a joint mechanism for protection of children from trafficking, and appropriate preventative measures, will be shortly finalised. This workshop follows UNICEF’s support for a fact-finding mission by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
For more information contact:

Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Media – Kabul +93 (0) 702 78493
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Media – Kabul +93 (0) 702 74729




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