Afghanistan,War,and Children


Afghanistan has been in a continuous state of civil war since the 1970’s. As is known, war affects all aspects of life. The Afghan war has affected billions of people worldwide and quiet possible has had its biggest effect on the children of Afghanistan. About half of the country’s population is under the age of 18, which means 15 million children. Out of that 15 million, 5 million are under the age of 5 (UNICEF). The children of Afghanistan lead dangerous and tortured lives because of these wars. Afghanistan lacks proper child labor laws, health and nutrition programs, and the education that is necessary for these children to grow into civilized citizens of their country.

Globally, there are 215 million children against whom the act of child labor is committed (12 June World). In Afghanistan, this problem worsens by the day. Because of all the wars, especially after the Soviet and Taliban invasions, many of the men and women were wounded. These invasions also left many children orphaned and left to survive the streets alone. Those children became adults, adults who grew up without proper schooling and who, for the most part, are illiterate. While those adults survived decades of war and violence they do not possess the education, and/or professional skills to use in the workforce to be able to provide for their families. The children are forced to step up and go out into the workforce. They become the main, and in some cases, the sole, breadwinner for their families and continue the cycle contributing high poverty and low literacy.

Some estimate that as much as 30 percent of school aged children are now in the workforce, of that 30 percent, 21 percent are employed in shops and 13 as street vendors. They work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can be found doing anything from working on plantations to repairing vehicles, tailoring, and farming (Mohd). In Kabul, and many other major cities of Afghanistan, these children shine shoes, beg, clean cars, sell plastic bags, scrap metal, paper, and firewood on the streets.
A child’s rights officer at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says,
“Both male and female children have been the increasing victims of war and criminality in Afghanistan but the government has not done enough to alleviate their hardship and to reduce their deprivation.” (Mohd)
Efforts to reduce the child labor rates are underway. According to Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, every child has the right to education, and free education should be accessible to all children on the basis of equal opportunity. (Yecha) Afghan law also mandates education up to the ninth grade and provides free education up to university level. Afghanistan also made plans in 2006 at the London Convention to have 50 percent of girls and 75 percent of boys enrolled in school by the end of this year.

Also, in March of 2010, UNICEF and the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Country Programme Action Plan for 2010-2013. (Ayari) Because security in the country is well, insecure. The programme is geared toward “fast track high-impact interventions” that will tie in with existing development programs, emergency response planning, and that are aimed at accessing areas in disadvantaged communities. Over the next 4 years, 400 million dollars will be spent bettering the country for the future generation.

However, child labor is not the only, and definitely not the biggest concern for Afghan children. According to Save the Children, In Afghanistan, it is more likely that a child dies before the age of 5, than it is for the child to ever see adulthood. Nearly 6o percent of Afghani children will die from illness that could have been prevented because of lack of nutrition and lack of access to clean water (One Fourth). Although there are ‘conflict zones’ like Helmand that are the most heavily aided places in the world, there are many families that are outside of these zones that are unable to access food and clean water for their children and yet there is no shortage of food in most parts of the country (McCarthy). Diarrhea and respiratory diseases are major causes of child mortality. Often the main problem is bad hygiene, said Eric Ouannes the head of mission for the French aid organization Action Contre la Faim. More often than not, the problem is bad hygiene and lack of proper care of the resources the people have. "There is no need to alert the world to an impending famine," he says. "But there is a need to look closely at health care issues over the long term" (McCarthy).

The second pillar in UNICEF’s Country Programme Action Plan addresses health care and nutrition. It includes implementing new health, nutrition, and hygiene programs as well as educating communities about prevention interventions. (Ayari)

Although improper food and nutrition and an elaborate case of over working of Afghan children has proved life threatening physically, the lack of education in Afghanistan will prove fatal to the country as a whole. Because of the Taliban, girls were not allowed to attend schools and the boys were sold into the military. That generation of children that grew up during the reign of the Taliban has been denied their basic rights to better themselves and thus, better their country. Now because they do not possess the skills needed to survive in the working world, their children are also missing out on schooling to become child laborers and provide for their family instead of attending class and making a more permanent impact. And the cycle continues. Over 70 percent of the population in Afghanistan is currently illiterate. With a sheer lack of schools and the socio-religious mindset that is Afghanistan today; 15 million children are deprived of an education (Afghan Children Deprived). In areas where there are schools, the teachers are underpaid, overworked, and unqualified. Classes must be held in tents, or under trees, outdoors on footpaths, but what happens during bad weather conditions that make it impossible for the children to focus on their learning? Even these spaces become virtually unusable in the worst of conditions.

Slowly but surely, the education crisis in Afghanistan is being addressed by both the Afghan government, and organizations helping in the aid of the country. Since 2001, the enrollment of girls in school has gone from 3 percent while the Taliban was in power, to one-third of all students (Afghan Children’s Plight). However, with enrollment reaching new heights, so is the concern for suicide bombings and air strikes from US and NATO forces in, on, and around schools. The new Afghan law declares mandatory education up to the ninth grade and provides free education up to the university level. In 2006, at a conference held in London, Afghanistan government set up goals to have 50 percent of girls and 75 percent of boys in school by the end of this year. (Yecha) This also goes hand in hand with bringing the child labor rates down. If Afghanistan can educate their children and get them off of the streets working, Afghanistan will be in a much better place. UNICEF’s Country Programme Action Plan also addresses educating some of the worse off communities about prevention of some illnesses in its second pillar (Ayari).

In the long run, that will be the answer to Afghanistan’s problem. Education.

We as Americans take lightly all that we are offered here in this country; especially what is available to our children. Our government provides food, clothing, living expenses, social security, etc. Granted, our government is not perfect, but here we have been blessed with the “right” to address our government with our concerns and to see something be done about it. American children, unlike the Afghan children, are protected by child labor laws, running water, and everything necessary readily available for their health and education. The children of Afghanistan are the ones that will make the difference for their country. By educating the up and coming population of the country we can teach them to be self sufficient. By giving the future generation an education, we provide the country with the doctors, nurses, teachers, government officials they need to bring Afghanistan to a better place in the future. “The young are the only ones that can rehabilitate our country, because you cannot start over with the old generation.” Shafiq Popal, 30, leader of a youth organization. By bettering one country, we better our entire world.

“Afghan Children Deprived of Rights.” Daily Outlook Afghanistan 20 Nov. 2009: n. pag. General OneFile. Web. 7 July 2010.
During the 3 decades of war in Afghanistan, 300,000 children died. A large number of the children that die each year are due to malnutrition and 1/3 of landmine victims in Afghanistan are children. On top of that there are tragic living conditions that affect all aspects of the Afghan children’s lives. The lack of schools and the socio-religious mindset of people deprive 15 million Afghan children of their education. According to Action Aid, the majority of children are working to help support their families, and most of those children are the sole ‘bread winner’ for their families. There are 200,000 Afghan children with disabilities, for which the government has no benefits or aid for. The government needs to work to help these children and enact laws that ensure that their rights are not being violated and they can live fulfilling happy lives, as children.

The Daily Outlook Afghanistan is the first English, independent newspaper in Afghanistan. It is read nation-wide with 100,000 circulated daily by Afghanistan Group of Newspapers. They are an independent media group that also published Daily Afghanistan, one of the largest newspapers in Afghanistan. Because a lot of the population is illiterate, Daily Outlook Afghanistan is mainly read in embassies, NGO’s, UN Agencies, educational institutions and other organizations. Both the Daily Outlook and Daily Afghanistan go to 32 or 34 provinces in the country.

Some of the statistics and facts in the article were used to show the horrible living conditions of the Afghan children. The numbers the article quotes from ActionAid show that child labor is a huge problem in Afghanistan and something must done about it.

“Afghan Children’s Plight.” Daily Outlook Afghanistan 12 May 2010: n. pag. General OneFile. Web. 7 July 2010.
In this article the author addresses the dangers that Afghan children face in Kabul today. He/she talks about how security in Afghanistan has gone down causing major concerns for the Afghani people, especially children. Martin Bell, UNICEF’s UK ambassador comments that although there has been ‘great progress’ in health, nutrition and education sectors in recent years, the children of Afghanistan are “at more risk now then they have been since 2002.” Since 2001, the enrollment of girls in school has gone from 3 percent while the Taliban was in power, to one-third of all students. With enrollment going up the concern for suicide bombings and air strikes from US and NATO forces are raising concerns, not only for citizen causalities, but also those involving schools. British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, believes that Afghanistan is the frontline state against the Taliban, and therefore appreciates all the efforts against terrorism there. He says that the work being done there is “important bulwark against terrorism everywhere in the world.“

The Daily Outlook Afghanistan is the first English, independent newspaper in Afghanistan. It is read nation-wide with 100,000 circulated daily by Afghanistan Group of Newspapers. They are an independent media group that also published Daily Afghanistan, one of the largest newspapers in Afghanistan. Because a lot of the population is illiterate, Daily Outlook Afghanistan is mainly read in embassies, NGO’s, UN Agencies, educational institutions and other organizations. Both the Daily Outlook and Daily Afghanistan go to 32 or 34 provinces in the country.

The author states the importance of the efforts in Afghanistan and other countries to rid the world of terrorism. In my paper I used Martin Bell statement that says although there is some progress, there is still a lot that need to be done. While enrollment in schools has gone up for both boys and girls, security is still a big issue.
Ayari, Farida. “New Country Programme Helps Children Achieve Their Rights in Afghanistan.” UNICEF. Ed. UNICEF. N.p., 4 Mar. 2010. Web. 14 July 2010. On February 25, 2010, UNICEF and the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Country Programme Action Plan for 2010-2013. (Ayari) Because security in the country is well, insecure. The programme is geared toward “fast track high-impact interventions” that will tie in with existing development programs, emergency response planning, and that are aimed at accessing areas in disadvantaged communities. Over the next 4 years, 400 million dollars will be spent bettering the country for the future generation.

UNICEF stands for the United Children’s Fund. UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind – to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. UNICEF has global authority and the power to influence great decision makers through its many partnerships. It is this that puts UNICEF in such a valuable role as an advocate for children’s rights all around the world.

Information from this article was used to explain what UNICEF’s Country Programme Action Plan was, and how it is being used to help the children in Afghanistan live better lives.

Mohd, Ahsan. “Will the Suffering of Afghan Children End?” Daily Outlook Afghanistan: n. pag. General OneFile. Web. 8 July 2010.
Because of long term wars and conflicts in Afghanistan like the Soviet Invasion and the harsh rule of the Taliban many Afghan children were orphaned and left to survive on their own. Those children became adults, adults without schooling who are illiterate. And while those now adults have survived years and years of war and violence they have no professional skills to use now that they are adults. Those adults now contribute to the high poverty level and their children are now responsible to go and work for a living continuing the cycle. In Afghanistan, 21 percent of child workers are employed in shops; 13 percent work as street vendors. They work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. They do jobs such as vehicle repair, metal workshops, tailoring and farming. In Kabul and many other major cities of Afghanistan, there are children who shine shoes, beg, clean cars and collect and sell scrap metal, paper and firewood on the street for extra money. A child rights officer at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says, “Both male and female children have been the increasing victims of war and criminality in Afghanistan but the government has not done enough to alleviate their hardship and to reduce their deprivation.” Something must be done to bring security back to this country so these children can break the cycle and bring Afghanistan back.

The Daily Outlook Afghanistan is the first English, independent newspaper in Afghanistan. It is read nation-wide with 100,000 circulated daily by Afghanistan Group of Newspapers. They are an independent media group that also published Daily Afghanistan, one of the largest newspapers in Afghanistan. Because a lot of the population is illiterate, Daily Outlook Afghanistan is mainly read in embassies, NGO’s, UN Agencies, educational institutions and other organizations. Both the Daily Outlook and Daily Afghanistan go to 32 or 34 provinces in the country.

This article has a lot of useful information in regards to child labor in Afghanistan. AIHRC is quoted saying that the government is not doing enough to alleviate the hardships that the children (and their families) are facing. This among some of the other facts and figures were used in the paper.
“One Fourth of Children Die before the Age of Five.” Daily Outlook Afghanistan: n. pag. General OneFile. Web. 8 July 2010.
In Afghanistan, children are more likely to die before the age of five than they are to ever see adulthood, according to Save the Children. At the current rate, one child dies every 2 minutes. According to a study done by Save the Children, 2009 brought more deaths to Afghan children than any other year since the fall of the Taliban. The latest figures show that more than 1,050 children’s lives were lost in airstrikes, explosions, crossfire, and suicide bombings. But the war isn’t the only thing that is taking children’s’ lives. Almost 60 percent of Afghani children will die from preventable illnesses because of malnutrition and lack of access to good clean water. Although ‘conflict zones’ like Helmand are among the most heavily aided places in the world, families outside of these conflict zones are unable to access food and clean water for their children. If the World Aids really want to help they need to extend their aid to places outside of the conflict zones so that so many wars-stricken children do not have to die.
The Daily Outlook Afghanistan is the first English, independent newspaper in Afghanistan. It is read nation-wide with 100,000 circulated daily by Afghanistan Group of Newspapers. They are an independent media group that also published Daily Afghanistan, one of the largest newspapers in Afghanistan. Because a lot of the population is illiterate, Daily Outlook Afghanistan is mainly read in embassies, NGO’s, UN Agencies, educational institutions and other organizations. Both the Daily Outlook and Daily Afghanistan go to 32 or 34 provinces in the country.

This article was used to show how poor the health care in Afghanistan, especially for the children, really is. It shows that the rate of children dying unnecessarily from preventable diseases.
“12 June, World Day against Child Labor.” Daily Outlook Afghanistan 14 June 2010: n. pag. General OneFile. Web. 14 July 2010.
World Day Against Child Labor is observed on June 12 internationally. Eleven years ago the International Labor Organization’s Convention No. 182 was adopted by the international community. In Afghanistan children are not only subjected to various kinds of child labor but also to a lack of security in their country. For most of these families, the children bring in the only source of income, and if the children do not go out and work their family will go hungry. According to a UN report 346 Afghan children were killed in 2009, and if the violence continues the numbers will be worse in 2010.

The Daily Outlook Afghanistan is the first English, independent newspaper in Afghanistan. It is read nation-wide with 100,000 circulated daily by Afghanistan Group of Newspapers. They are an independent media group that also published Daily Afghanistan, one of the largest newspapers in Afghanistan. Because a lot of the population is illiterate, Daily Outlook Afghanistan is mainly read in embassies, NGO’s, UN Agencies, educational institutions and other organizations. Both the Daily Outlook and Daily Afghanistan go to 32 or 34 provinces in the country.

Some of the statistics and figures in this article were used to help support the fact that child labor is a huge and devastating problem in Afghanistan, and around the world.
Yecha, Sher Ali. “Child Labor in Afghanistan - Nothing Done so Far.” Daily Outlook Afghanistan 7 Dec. 2009: n. pag. General OneFile. Web. 7 July 2010.

One in six children in the world are exploited and/or abused in child labor. These children are everywhere working in landmines, plantations, and workshops. In Afghanistan this problem grows more several by the day. The problem lies in political tension and inequalities socioeconomically. According to some estimates 30 percents of school aged children are working. After the Soviet and Taliban invasion most of the men and women were wounded. Because of this many of these children are often the only source of income for their families. In Afghanistan, 21 percent of child workers are employed in shops; 13 percent work as street vendors. They work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Efforts to reduce to reduce the child labor rates are underway. According to article 28 of the convention on the rights of the child, every child has the right to education and free education should be accessible to all children on the basis of equal opportunity. Afghan Law declares education mandatory up to ninth grade and provides free education up to university level. In 2006, there was a conference held in London where Afghanistan set goals that were to be met by 2010. This plan includes enrollment of 50 percent of girls and 75 percent of boys in schools.

The Daily Outlook Afghanistan is the first English, independent newspaper in Afghanistan. It is read nation-wide with 100,000 circulated daily by Afghanistan Group of Newspapers. They are an independent media group that also published Daily Afghanistan, one of the largest newspapers in Afghanistan. Because a lot of the population is illiterate, Daily Outlook Afghanistan is mainly read in embassies, NGO’s, UN Agencies, educational institutions and other organizations. Both the Daily Outlook and Daily Afghanistan go to 32 or 34 provinces in the country.

To show what is being done in Afghanistan to try and bring up the rates of children in schools. It discusses the goals of the Convention of Rights of Children and the new Afghan Law.

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