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Deaths and injuries to children increase as a result of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan

KABUL (June 13, 2012) — Children in Afghanistan continue to be killed and injured as a direct result of the ongoing conflict in the country and these incidents are on the increase, according to a global report on Children and Armed Conflict released by the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday.

UNICEF is deeply concerned about this trend and repeats its call to all parties to the conflict to ensure that children are protected at all times and in accordance with international humanitarian law.

According to the report, a total of 1,756 children were killed or injured due to the conflict in Afghanistan in 2011, representing an average of 4.8 children killed or injured per day, compared with 1,396 children killed or injured in 2010.

“The death or maiming of a single child is a tragedy. This level of avoidable suffering of children, as is presented in the Secretary-General’s report, is simply unacceptable,” said UNICEF Afghanistan Deputy Representative Vidhya Ganesh. “It is imperative that all parties to the conflict do everything they can, right away, to protect the lives and the basic rights of the children of Afghanistan.”

UNICEF Afghanistan calls on all parties to the conflict to clarify their policies and procedures to minimize civilian casualties, including children, and urges Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the International Military Forces (IMF) to ensure that adequate, Afghan-owned civilian casualty tracking and mitigation policies are put in place and implemented as soon as possible and with appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms.

In 2011, 316 children under the age of 18 were reportedly recruited by parties to the conflict in Afghanistan, with the majority of cases attributed to armed opposition groups. Children have been used to conduct suicide attacks, to plant IEDs and to transport provisions to armed groups. UNICEF calls on all armed opposition groups to stop recruitment of those who are under the age of 18 and calls on the Government of Afghanistan to ensure a continued focus on the implementation of the Action Plan to halt and prevent underage recruitment into the Afghan National Security Forces.

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org

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