By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: The UN’s agency for children, UNICEF, in a statement on Monday said that 27 children were killed and 136 more were wounded in ongoing fighting in Kandahar, Khost and Paktia provinces in the last 72 hours. The UN agency said it is “shocked by the rapid escalation of grave violations against children” in Afghanistan. According to the agency, 20 children were killed and 130 more were wounded in Kandahar; 2 children were killed and 3 more were wounded in Khost; 5 children were killed and 3 more were wounded in Paktia in the last 72 hours. The atrocities grow higher by the day, the agency says. “These are not numbers. Each one of these deaths and each case of physical suffering is a personal tragedy,” UNICEF envoy in Afghanistan Hervé Ludovic De Lys said in a statement. “These children are much loved and longed-for daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends. All of them are children whose right to protection, under international humanitarian law, has been disregarded by warring parties.” UNICEF said that these atrocities are also evidence of the “brutal nature and scale of violence in Afghanistan which preys on already vulnerable children.” On top of this “appalling situation,” UNICEF said, it is also “deeply concerned about reports that children are, increasingly, being recruited into the conflict by armed groups.” The agency said that many other boys and girls are deeply traumatized as they witness atrocities committed against their families and others in their communities. UNICEF said that children should not pay for this worsening conflict with their childhoods and that only a complete end of hostilities can protect Afghanistan’s children. As long as the conflict rages, children’s “right to thrive is compromised; their futures jeopardized, and their contributions to their nation’s prospects diminished,” the agency said. UNICEF called on all those engaged in mediation efforts to hold the warring parties to their international obligations to children.