Afghanistan: “The Worst Place to Be Born in the World”?

Afghan_children_play_near_U.S._military_on_patrol_(4665782053)
Afghan children play near U.S. military on patrol via NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan // Public domain

Afghanistan is in immense economic and social insecurity and on top of that, millions of people are wondering what to expect in the upcoming period, after the violent Taliban takeover. Are the Taliban concerned with how children’s lives change? Can they differentiate between a child and an adult at all, or does it not matter to them? It’s not yet known exactly what the Taliban are aiming for, and what the consequences of their rule will be.

While the uncertainty of existence increases, the Pentagon has confirmed that 10 civilians, including 7 Afghan children, have been the victims of a drone attack based on misinformation launched to protect American soldiers.

Before the Takeover

The current situation is not entirely new to the world and the country. They had faced this before, when the Taliban last ruled the country twenty years ago, which meant that human rights were rejected and completely ignored. Thanks to the American intervention, the building of democratic values in the country has begun, and so did the process of democratization.

For twenty years, there seemed to have been tremendous growth and progress in both the application of fundamental human rights, and in the development of the country as well.

The ’Childrenitarian’ Crisis

The situation of children in Afghanistan has improved over the last twenty years, the root of the problem has not been dealt with; it was only “surface treatment”.The country is teeming with forced child marriages in early years. Most girls give birth to their first child between the ages of 15 and 19.

Sexual abuse and violence (mutilation and daily harassment as well) is almost commonplace. Poverty (the second poorest country in the world), malnutrition (the level of malnutrition is enormous (specific data: 5 out of 3 millionchildren suffer from malnutrition) and 38% are specifically starving (5.5 million children), hunger and the early employment of children, the participation of child soldiers in mainstream conflicts, and the ongoing struggles that have developed as a result of the ongoing war situation are intertwining Afghan lives on a daily basis.

It is a shocking fact that one in 16 children die before they reach the age of five. In juvenile justice, the country’s criminal laws do not distinguish between major crimes and minor offenses. So, for example, there is no chance of a child abuser going to jail. This is an existing phenomenon, despite the International Convention on Children’s Rights. In the case of education, it can be said that 42% of children are practically completely excluded from school education (actually 80 percent of children go to school, but only 28 percent of adults are literate).

The fundamental right to identity, to be an official citizen of one’s own country (having a personal identity, officially registered), represents only 6 percent of the population. Thus, there are many citizens who are not registered in their country, that is, they are in fact invisible to their own society and to the world. Perhaps it is conceivable that the current situation shows a deteriorating trend in people’s mental state for the reasons mentioned earlier.

Out of Afghanistan’s population of nearly 40 million, 10 million children live in the country and all of these children need help. According to UNICEF, the forced regime change in Afghanistan has resulted in 550 child victims and another 1,400 children injured. 550,000 people had to flee due to the situation resulting from the war conflict, half of them are children.

So, the continuous uncertainty is typical, and the spread of the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing problems and thus joined an endless line of problems to be solved. The healthcare situation is not perfect either, inaccessible to most children, there are not enough doctors, health professionals, surgeries, hospitals available.

Currently an interim military leadership has taken power, but negotiations are already underway on what the new political system would look like. Unfortunately, previous experience does not promise much, according to some news, they’re already starting to recruit children into the army. Taliban restored a decades-old constitution in Afghanistan, but at the same time they emphasize that Kabul respects international laws and conventions that do not contradict Islam.

Resolution of the European Union

The European Union is approaching the issue with caution, for obvious reasons, as it fears a wave of refugees after the 2015 experience, which was not impeccable.

“The Union has adopted conclusions on Afghanistan, underlining the EU’s commitment to peace and stability in the country and to the Afghan people.”

(Press release of the Council of the European Union)

The European Council considers that all EU Member States should ensure their financial contribution to the Afghan cause indirectly through various international humanitarian organizations and the close coordination with relevant international partners is needed.

“A minimum EU presence in Kabul due to the security situation would facilitate the delivery and monitoring of humanitarian aid to those in need, as well as the coordination and support of the safe, protected and orderly departure of all foreigners and Afghans wishing to leave the country. It also declares that the Taliban takeover cannot be an uncontrollable life-threatening situation for European citizens, so joint action is needed.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is providing support to Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, which are granting refugee status to Afghan citizens in need. There is also a will on the part of the European Union to take in Afghan refugees, but it is already more cautious on this issue because of the experience of the 2015 refugee crisis.

Various humanitarian and civil society organizations are calling on the governments of the Member States of the European Union to take substantive action to save children in order to alleviate the problems and suffering mentioned above. Thus, they have a duty to provide access to life-saving services through international organizations under international law. (Actually, the EU is helping Afghanistan since 1994 providing over 1 billion euros in total.)

In a statement issued by the European Parliament, it seeks to urge the European Commission to support humanitarian organizations such as, Save the Children (which has been active in Afghanistan since 1976), UNICEF ​​(also present for 65 years) and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Organization The European Union is currently providing 57 million euros for these organizations, but additional resources will be available later, in fact, the European Union is now focusing on the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan and trying to provide them with meaningful assistance.


References:

https://ec.europa.eu/echo/where/asia-and-pacific/afghanistan_en

https://ec.europa.eu/echo/news/afghanistan-eu-joining-discussions-organised-united-nations-humanitarian-situation-country-0_en

https://www.savethechildren.net/news/statement-save-children-calls-eu-governments-guarantee-rights-afghan-children-and-families

https://www.savethechildren.net/news/europe-must-take-responsibility-asylum-seeking-afghan-children

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/08/31/statement-on-the-situation-in-afghanistan/

https://www.savethechildren.net/what-we-do/emergencies/afghanistan

https://www.savethechildren.net/news/statement-save-children-calls-eu-governments-guarantee-rights-afghan-children-and-families

https://www.humanium.org/en/afghanistan/

https://hvg.hu/vilag/20210917_Pentagon_civil_aldozatok

https://www.savethechildren.net/news/one-child-killed-or-maimed-every-5-hours-over-20-years-war-afghanistan

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/hu/press/press-releases/2021/09/21/afghanistan-council-conclusions-set-out-the-eu-s-position-and-next-steps/

https://afghanistan.unfpa.org/en/node/15233


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