Govt urged to ensure child protection measures in talks
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): A top UN official on child rights on Wednesday urged the Afghan government to inject child protection measures into any negotiations with the Taliban.
“It’s essential to highlight the importance of child protection from the very start of talks,” said Leila Zerrougui, the Special UN Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict.
The ideologies of the Taliban and other armed groups have precluded talks or cooperation with the United Nations, but the engagement of the government of Afghanistan with representatives of the Taliban offer an opportunity for direct dialogue on behalf of children with this group, he remarked.
Zerrougui said that in the absence of direct dialogue between these armed groups and the United Nations, it has always been important to search for other ways to try to improve the protection of children in the face of violations committed by the groups.
The Taliban, Haqqani Network and Hezb-e-Islami are considered to be persistent perpetrators of violations against children in Afghanistan, and all three groups have been listed as such since 2007 in the UN Secretary-General’s global Annual Report on children and armed conflict.
The groups continue to use children to make, transport and plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and force them to conduct suicide attacks, Zerrougui said, reflecting findings outlined in the latest of the Secretary-General’s country reports on Afghanistan, which covers the period 1 September 2010 to 31 December 2014.
“I am aware that the talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban are in their early stages, but I strongly encourage the government to keep the protection of children uppermost in their mind as they proceed,” the top UN official said.
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