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Children and conflict: Afghan children and post conflict processes

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Background on Afghanistan.
  3. Violation of children's rights.
    1. Impact of conflicts on children.
    2. Families and their children.
    3. Appropriate counselling.
    4. Health issues.
  4. Weapons and children.
    1. Debate over the use of landmines.
    2. Cluster bombs.
    3. Impact of the injusries caused.
  5. Impact of conflict on eduction.
    1. The back-to-school programme in Afghanistan.
  6. Conclusion - Afghan children'€ s behaviorsand the findings of Graca Machel†s 1996 report.

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[3]. 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. [...]

[...] Available from: Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict (October 2001), Issue Afghanistan. Available from: Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict (November 2001), Afghanistan Update. Available from: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted in 1989. It rapidly became the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, enjoying almost universal ratification. Afghanistan ratified the CRC in 1994 (prior to Taliban control). However, the optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict and the Optional Protocol on Children on the Sale on Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography remain not signed. [...]

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