A new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, reveals that an average of nine children were killed or maimed every day in Afghanistan in the first nine months of 2019.
In the first three quarters of 2019, 631 children were killed, and another 1,830 were injured in the conflict in Afghanistan, the report said.
Titled “Preserving Hope in Afghanistan: Protecting children in the world’s most lethal conflict,” the study says that this marks an 11 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018.
The report says that this is largely due to a surge in suicide bomb attacks and ground engagements between pro- and anti-government forces.
“Even by Afghanistan’s grim standards, 2019 has been particularly deadly for children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, quoted in a statement by the organization. “Children, their families, and communities suffer the horrific consequences of conflict each and every day. Those same children are desperate to grow up, go to school, learn skills, and build a future for themselves. We can, and must, do so much more to reinforce their extraordinary courage and resilience.”
Between 2009 and 2018, nearly 6,500 children were killed and almost 15,000 others injured, helping make Afghanistan the world’s most lethal warzone in 2018, the report says.
Besides the direct impact of violence, children’s lives are also being blighted by the combined effects of natural disasters, poverty, and under-development, according to UNICEF.
Additional facts from the report include:
• 3.8 million children need humanitarian assistance;
• 1 in 3 girls marries before her 18th birthday;
• 3.7 million school-aged children who are out of school;
• 600,000 children under the age of five are severely malnourished;
• 30 percent of children are engaged in child labor;
• 400,000 young Afghans enter the labor market each year but many lack the vocational skills necessary to find jobs and livelihoods.
“Young Afghans need to know that their career prospects extend beyond joining an armed group, or escaping the country to try their luck abroad,” said UNICEF Afghanistan Representative Aboubacar Kampo. “With the right support, they can begin to break free of the cycle of violence and underdevelopment and create a better future for themselves and Afghanistan.”
The UN organization in a statement on Tuesday called on parties to the conflict to fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, which require them to protect children, end the targeting of schools and health centers and allow access to humanitarian assistance.