The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children (SRSG) and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, in a statement on Monday called for the inclusion of "child protection” and the “specific needs and rights of children in the intra-Afghan negotiations throughout the peace process,” which is “a crucial consideration to bring sustainable peace in the country.”
Afghanistan remains the deadliest conflict for children, the statement read, and the SRSG “welcomes the recent engagement and efforts of parties in the country toward achieving sustainable peace and emphasizes the need to end the conflict.”
“The inclusion of measures to protect children at the earliest stages possible of the intra-Afghan negotiations has a strategic value for sustainable peace and stability, and the potential to improve the lives of millions of children in Afghanistan,” said Virginia Gamba.
The practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict was presented last month to the UN Security Council by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres. Case examples of other peace agreements that involved child mediation were offered.
“Children in Afghanistan have been used and abused by parties to conflict for years, victims of grave violations such as the recruitment and use, sexual violence, killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals. Boys and girls below the age of 18 years should be at the heart of peacebuilding efforts and included in protection and prevention strategies supporting the country’s transition toward sustainable peace,” Virginia Gamba said.