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    Governance

    More than 6.5m forced into child labour

    KABUL CITY (PAN): Nearly half a million children were provided work opportunities this year across the country, where more than 6.5 million minors have been forced into hard labour, an official said on Tuesday.

    A survey conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNCEF) in 2007 revealed 19 million children were part of Afghanistan’s populations, with five million above the age 5 and 14.5 million less than 18 years.

    To mark the international children's day, the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled jointly organised a function with the Kindergartens Department in Kabul. Officials said they had new programmes at hand for children. 

    Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Labour Minister Wasil Noor Mohmand said more than eight million children had access to education in the country and over 6.5 million were deprived of the right.

    He voiced concern that most of children were forced into hard works and subjected to sexual and physical abuse, early marriages and smuggling. “Nearly 37,000 children are forced into hard work in Kabul alone,” he said.   

    Despite lack of funds, he said the ministry from its budget had been able to provide work opportunities to about three million children and other facilities like education and microfinance to their families over the past three years. About 561,000 children benefited from the ministry projects this year, he said.

    Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Amna Afzali said the government gave priority to work opportunities, training centres and improving children conditions over the past decade.

    She acknowledged most of the children were pushed into heavy works, citing children without guardians in society another big issue facing the country.

    She said her ministry was to introduce a national strategy on the protection of children and street venders and under that policy, the ministry would arrange its progarmmes in 29 provinces and districts.

    The minister said 348 children were collected from streets in Kabul city and transferred them to professional training centres. 

    Lawmaker Fawzia Kofi called for giving more attention to the situation of children in training centers, saying the children could indulge in serious crimes if they were ignored.

    An Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) official Najibullah Zadran Babrakzai said though Afghanistan was membership of the Convention on the Rights of Child since 1995, the country was yet to come up with convention’s rules on resolution of problems facing children.

    He said violence against children remained a huge challenge for the government, suggesting the issue could be resolved with the creation of public awareness.

    mm/ma