Agreement to stop recruiting children into Afghan police

Sunday, January 30, 2011

KABUL - The Afghan government Sunday signed an agreement with the UN to stop the recruitment of children into its police forces.

Afghanistan was last year blacklisted in the UN secretary general’s report on children and armed conflict for the recruitment and use of children by the Afghan National Police. The UN report also found some army commanders were recruiting boys for sexual purposes.

“Afghanistan remains one of the most difficult places to be a child. The world of these girls and boys is dominated by a constant battle to survive,” said Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the UN secretary general for children and conflict, after signing the document.

The agreement between the Afghan government and UN prevents underage recruitment, sexual violence against children and the killing and maiming of children in conflict, a joint statement said.

Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasool called the signing a “big step” towards a better future of the children of Afghanistan.

“This is not only the responsibility of the government but the entire community is called upon to work together for the protection of all children in Afghanistan,” Rasool told reporters in Kabul.

Coomaraswamy said underage recruitment, especially by anti-government elements, and the killing and maiming of children, including through the use of landmines, were main concerns for the UN in Afghanistan.

“We are seeing a 38-percent increase since 2009,” she said.

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