Historically, the processes of securing peace, reconciliation and reconstructing a country have neglected the specific needs and rights of children. However, the approach to the role of children in post conflict societies is slowly changing. To ensure the long-term peace, security and development of a country, it has become accepted that children, having played a significant role in the conflict as victims, witnesses and perpetrators of violence, must not be ignored or marginalised in the peace process. On the contrary, children require specific attention and assistance. That is the reason why humanitarian and development programmes have become more child focused and more child rights driven, with the Convention on the Rights of the Child being used as a guiding tool for work with children . Afghanistan is situated in central Asia and borders on China, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Iran. It has a land area (647,500 sq. km.) somewhat larger than Texas and a population of 25 million inhabitants.
[...] By allowing this participation, society acknowledges the huge impact the conflict has had on its children and reinforces the importance of their role in their communities. On the other hand, despite many threats to children's wellbeing in post war Afghanistan, families have developed ways of coping with daily challenges and discovered strengths and resources to limit the impact of the war on their children. To enhance children's wellbeing, the UNICEF thus recommends that instead of focusing on individual trauma counselling, the best interests of the vast majority of Afghan children would be served through a broader psychological response still to be defined Appropriate counselling is especially needed for girls who may have been forced into marriages, prostitution or other sexual activity. [...]
[...] Children are particularly vulnerable to being killed or injured by landmines and cluster bombs because: - their chances to surviving massive loss of blood are minimal; - they are often the victims of their own curiosity and love of play, something they are eager to do following the cessation of hostilities: as mines come in different shapes, sizes and colours, children mistake the weapons for toys; - according to the United Nations, cluster bombs are commonly bright yellow in colour and are hard to distinguish from yellow humanitarian packages which have also been dropped; - children are required to perform jobs that are crucial to the economic survival of the family: tending livestock, scavenging, gathering firewood and collecting water are tasks which are often carried out in heavily mined areas; - migration routes of nomadic Kuchi children cross mined areas. [...]
[...] Increase access to education for all Afghan children is thus of crucial importance as it could permit to run awareness programs regarding the hazards of unexploded ordnances. Education has greatly suffered as a result of the years of conflict and the restrictions of the regime. Afghanistan's education infrastructure has been destroyed and statistics are unreliable. However, recent estimates put the overall literacy rate at approximately with the female rate as low as (girls aged 15 years and older). Schools are needed throughout Afghanistan to provide minimal education and to replace the thousands of schools that have been partially or totally destroyed. [...]
[...] Afghan children's behaviours have confirmed the findings of Graca Machel's 1996 report - The impact of Armed Conflict on Children - that children are less affected by a sense of helplessness than adults, and are less polarised in their views. Further research is needed to understand how agencies can build more effectively upon this capacity, and create a climate of optimism. Particular attention should be paid to adolescents, for it is this group which has the potential to lead Afghanistan out of war. [...]
[...] They remain a threat for years, if not decades, after the conflict ended: a landmine is not aimed at specific ‘enemy' soldier or territory and does not abide by a ceasefire. According to the Mine Action Program for Afghanistan (MAPA), the current known contaminated area is estimated to total approximately 724 million square meters. Of this some 344 million square meters is classified as high priority land. There are areas of the country that are still not accessible and the full extent of the landmine problem in Afghanistan is yet to be determined. [...]
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