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UNAMA concerned at rising number of child fatalities

UNAMA concerned at rising number of child fatalities

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May 16, 2017 - 13:55

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistaninfo-icon (UNAMA) on Tuesday voiced deep concern at the continued increase in conflict-related child deaths in 2017, calling for parties to the conflict to take immediate measures to reduce harm.

“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 the UNAMA head.

In a statement, Tadamichi Yamamoto said: “A family destroyed in seconds - this horror is just one of too many incidents documented at the onset of this fighting season.” The explosion took place in Mehtarlam, capital of eastern Laghman province.

The first four months of 2017 witnessed the highest recorded number of child casualties resulting from conflict-related incidents in Afghanistan, including the highest number of children killed, for the same comparable period since the Mission began documenting cases.

Between 1 January and 30 April 2017, UNAMA preliminarily recorded 987 child casualties (283 deaths and 704 injured), a 21 per cent increase in child deaths compared to the same period in 2016.

During 2017, child deaths have risen largely as a result of the persistent use of indirect and/or explosive weapons in civilian-populated areas and due to the use of illegal and indiscriminate improvised explosive devices. Ground fighting caused 118 child deaths between 1 January and 30 April, responsible for 42 per cent of the total.

The death on Sunday of two girls and injuries to seven other children, as well as two womeninfo-icon, after a mortar round fired into a residential area impacted their home in the Pashtuninfo-icon Kot district of Faryab province illustrated the dangers to which many children were exposed, he added.

After ground fighting, explosive remnants of war killed most children, resulting in 50 child deaths. In the period up to 30 April, aerial operations have been responsible for 44 child deaths and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for 38 child fatalities.

Pressure–plate improvised explosive devices, which are activated by victims and therefore pose great risk to civilian populations, caused 27 of the 38 child deaths from IEDs, according to the UNAMA statement.

Many of the more than 700 children injured in conflict-related incidents have suffered life-changing injuries, including loss of limbs, as well as significant and lasting trauma such as witnessing the death of siblings, parents, destruction to their homes or displacement.

UNAMA once again asked the warring sides to prioritise the protection of children by taking necessary precautions to reduce harm to civilians during fighting, including refraining from the use of indirect and/or explosive weapons in civilian-populated areas.

UNAMA welcomes the commitment of the government to formally ratify Protocol V to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons. The mission urged all parties to the conflict to commence marking, clearing, removing and destroying explosive remnants of war in areas under their control.

pr/mud

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