Afghanistan agrees to fight child recruitment into armed forces

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UNITED NATIONS: The Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations (UN) on Sunday signed an agreement in which the country made a commitment to protect children affected by armed conflict and to prevent the recruitment of minors into the national armed forces.

"Today we come together to undertake a big step for a better future for the children of Afghanistan," said Zalmai Rassoul, Afghanistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, who represented the Government at the signing of the agreement in Kabul with Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict.

"This is not only the responsibility of the Government. The entire community is called upon to work together for the protection of all children in Afghanistan," Rassoul added.

In April 2009, the Afghan National Police was cited in the Secretary-General's report on Children and Armed Conflict for the recruitment and use of children into its ranks, and the Government responded by establishing the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict, comprising eight ministries, the head of the National Directorate of Security, and the Presidential Advisor on Education and Health.

The steering committee and the UN-led country task force on children and armed conflict developed Action Plan, which sets out various activities that the Government will undertake to address issues such as the strengthening of birth registration and age-verification mechanisms, investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of under-age recruitment and sexual violence.

The Government also undertook to include child-specific provisions in any peace and reconciliation outcomes, including dialogue with armed groups for the immediate release and reintegration of children under the age of 18 in their ranks.

Also signing the document was Staffan de Mistura, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

(BNO NEWS )

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