KABUL: More than 700 children lost their lives in conflict-related security incidents in Afghanistan in 2010, according to figures compiled in an annual report of the Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM).
The report "Civilian Casualties of War 2010" claimed in total over 2,421 civilian Afghans were killed in the war last year out of which 30 percent were children, defined as being under 18. A majority of the children were killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) followed by suicide attacks, air strikes and mortars.
ARM said about 64 percent of the reported child deaths were attributed to the Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs) such as the Taliban, 17 percent were blamed on NATO-led forces, and pro-government local forces caused about four percent of the deaths. In addition, fifteen percent of the deaths occurred in security incidents which could not be attributed to an identifiable group.
While war-related child deaths in 2010 were significantly lower than a year before (1,050 deaths in 2009), the overall child casualties and rights violations trends remained strong. "Children were highly vulnerable to the harms of war but little was done by the combatant sides, particularly by the AOGs, to ensure child safety and security during military and security incidents," ARM noted.
Many of the reported child casualties in 2010 happened in the insecure south of the country but security incidents involving children were also reported elsewhere in the country. In terms of direct impacts of war, the central Bamyan and the northern Panjshir provinces were the safest areas for children. Kandahar, Helmand, Kunar and Kunduz were among the least secure provinces.
Several children have already been involved in incidents so far this year. On Monday, a child was accidentally killed by NATO-led forces as a result of an air strike in Helmand province. And on January 23, two children were killed and four others were injured when indirect fire rounds from insurgents impacted an area in Helmand province.