The United Nation’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has released a statement expressing concern over the rising numbers of child deaths in conflict zones during 2017, urging involved parties to take action.
The statement includes figures showing that between January 1 and April 30, 2017, compared to the same period in 2016, there has been a 21 percent increase in child deaths. In the same period, there have been 987 child casualties, 283 deaths and 704 injuries. Other statistics include the following: 44 child deaths, as a result of aerial operations, 38 child deaths due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), 27 of which occurred due to pressure–plate improvised explosive devices that are activated accidentally by victims themselves.
The UNAMA claims that the cause of the rise is the “use of indirect and/or explosive weapons in civilian-populated areas and due to the use of illegal and indiscriminate improvised explosive devices.”
“I was appalled to hear that an unexploded mortar round killed five boys from the same family yesterday. The children were playing outside their home and found the mortar round, likely fired during fighting earlier in the day,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan when he commented on an explosion in Mehterlam city, Laghman province. “A family destroyed in seconds – this horror is just one of too many incidents documented at the onset of this fighting season.”
UNAMA has expressed its commendation of the Afghan government’s efforts to formally ratify Protocol V to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons. Protocol V involves the clearance, removal or destruction of explosive remnants of war and the other precautions for the protection of the civilian population from the risks and effects of explosive remnants of war among other stipulations.
Bringing down the number of casualties, not just in relation to children, but to all civilians will require the joint efforts of all parties involved to follow Protocol V, as well as a joint effort to cease conflict, particularly in areas with a high civilian population.