There are news about Afghanistan and the ongoing war everyday on television, newspapers and magazines. The three decades of war has destroyed much and brought distress, torment and suffering to the people. Infrastructure has been damaged beyond recognition and made daily life hard for the citizens. Millions has fled their homes, their lands in search for peace and a better life while the remaining people tries to do the best they can with the small amount of hope they got. Thousands of women became widows, children lost their father and chances of education while less fortunate ones lost their body parts making them prisoner in their home for ever.
The biggest losers are the children. They are the ones who have to carry the burden of war on their small shoulders and suffer the consequences. Ministry of public health in Afghanistan (MoPH) has many times reported that there are a high mortality rates in the country and the numbers are rising more because of diarrhea, breathing diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, measles, unhygienic conditions and lack of health center nearby.
According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report, http://www.unicef.org/sowc, Afghanistan has the 4th worst record in child mortality in the world and more than a quarter of a million children under 5 dies each year. Between those who survive, many is caught in armed conflict or killed by mines.
Every three hours or more, a child is blown up by a landmine or bomb planted all over the country making the children victim of the 1/3 of the countries land mines. For those who survive this, the trauma that follows is not the only problem but the children become a burden on their families and require extensive medical care, rehabilitation and economic support.
Other than loss of parents and other relatives, war has also several other effects on the children’s life. Many are forced to leave their education because of poverty, displacement, disabilities, destruction of infrastructure of schools. Before the Taliban regime, 70% of the teachers were females. After the Taliban regime the boy schools faced a shortage of teachers and others can’t afford to go to school.
Every day, tens of thousands of children starts heading for the streets to beg or work even during the coldest winter day when the bitter wind blows and feels like a razor blade over the skin and the snow melts through the poor shoes making the socks and feet’s wet. These children earn less than 2 dollars a day but yet they are the hope of their families and unfortunately their numbers are growing. Many of these children are orphans and are dependent on relatives or have to stay in abandoned houses.
UNHCR had performed a survey in 1997 and came to an estimated number of 28,000 street children in Kabul, whom 20% was girls. However the number has sadly increased after that to more than 40,000. These children are forced or involved to beg or work in the streets as shoe polishers, car washers or other jobs just to feed themselves or support their families.
The deputy Ministry of meeting members of the (SAIEVAC) South Asian initiative for the elimination of violence against children, http://www.saievac.info/index.php, has put forward the different types of problems children has to cope with. Types of problems are; the children in their social life, education deprivation, beating, rape and early or forced marriages.
Head of the organization also said that drug addiction, falling into the hands of human smugglers, diseases and war threatens the lives of the children. Those children who can work, finds themselves lucky, even if they are deprived from their childhood. Kabul is filled with hundreds and thousands of street children, scavenging through rubbish, selling plastic bags, repairing bicycles, laboring for shoe-makers and other work they can perform with their tiny hands.
We cannot only rely on the international society or the international force present in the country. The need of help and action is greater than ever and the government must employ a new and stabile strategy in regards to human rights of children and their poor situation. Unfortunately, my opinion is that a country with such amount of corruption is not capable to manage this when all the governmental officials think of their own pocket first rather than the children starving, dying or polishing their shoes. They are busier with transferring money to bank accounts in the Middle East and buying expensive and flashy villas. When the corrupt regime will be defeated, then the poverty and other problems slowly diminish.