An average of five children have been killed or wounded every day for the past 14 years in war-torn Afghanistan, a charity has found.
Data from the UN showed at least 26,025 children were killed or maimed from 2005 to 2019, said Save the Children.
The charity has urged donor nations to protect the future of Afghan children ahead of a key meeting in Geneva.
Violence has been rising in Afghanistan amid stalled peace talks and US troop withdrawals.
Afghanistan is among the 11 most dangerous nations in the world for children, according to Save the Children.
In 2019 it accounted for the greatest number of killing and maiming violations of all the global conflicts covered in the charity’s report, released on Friday, with 874 Afghan children killed and 2,275 maimed.
More than two-thirds of those killed and maimed last year were boys, it said, “as a result of ground engagements between pro- and anti-government forces or of improvised explosive devices in both suicide and non-suicide attacks”.
The report found that schools have routinely been attacked in the ongoing conflict that pits the Afghan government, supported by US troops, against the Taliban and other insurgents.
Save the Children said that between 2017 and 2019 there were more than 300 attacks on schools.
“Imagine living with the constant fear that today might be the day that your child is killed in a suicide attack or an airstrike. This is the grim reality for tens of thousands of Afghan parents whose children have been killed or injured,” said Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children’s country director in Afghanistan, in a statement.
Ahead of the 2020 Afghanistan Conference, a meeting of international donors that is starting in Geneva on Monday, the charity urged donor nations to safeguard the future of Afghan children with increased humanitarian funding.
It also called on the UK government to commit itself and its allies to avoid using explosive weapons in populated areas.
Afghanistan has seen decades of violent conflict that has left tens of thousands of civilians dead.
US forces have been in the country since 2001 in an operation to oust the Taliban after the deadly 9/11 attacks in New York.
The Taliban was removed from power but later regrouped and now controls more territory than at any time since the start of America’s longest war.
In February the US started withdrawing its troops after signing a landmark agreement with the insurgents. But violence in the country has risen again as the Taliban steps up its offensives amid stalled negotiations with the Afghan government.
On the weekend a deadly rocket attack in Kabul killed at least eight people and wounded more than 30.
Last year a BBC investigation found that unrelenting violence affected almost the entire country, documenting daily casualties in the month of August 2019.
Many observers have warned that the Afghan army is not strong enough to fight the insurgency alone after foreign troops leave.
But last week the US announced further cuts, saying it would withdraw 2,000 troops from Afghanistan by mid-January, leaving some 2,500 in the country.
For 13 years, between 2001 and 2014, the UK was involved in the conflict in Afghanistan against the Taliban and fighters from al-Qaeda. The last UK combat troops left Afghanistan in October 2014.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55039535
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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