An increasing number of children have been killed and injured in the conflict in Afghanistan, mostly by the Taliban and other anti-government groups, according to a UN report released on Monday.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the report, which covers a two-year period from Sept. 1, 2008, to Aug. 30 last year, that children continue to be victims of suicide and rocket attacks, improvised explosive devices and military operations by the Taliban and other armed groups as well as Afghan and international forces.
The report cites examples of children used to carry out suicide attacks and plant bombs and the recruitment of youngsters by armed groups as well as by the Afghan National Security Forces, despite a government ban on including anyone under the age of 18 in the military or police.
The report said civilian casualties linked to pro-government forces have decreased.
During the two-year period, Ban said 1,795 children were injured or killed because of conflict-related violence, but he said that figure was assumed to be -“underreported” because of the difficulty in -gaining access to conflict areas.
“The reporting period was marked by increased military activity and a continued deterioration in security, which heightened children’s vulnerability to conflict-related violations,” Ban said.
Last year, the report said women and children made up a greater proportion of those killed and injured than in 2009, with child casualties increasing 55 percent from the same period in 2009.
It said three-quarters of the civilian casualties were linked to the Taliban and other armed opposition groups, an increase of 53 percent from 2009.
“On the other hand, civilian casualties attributable to pro-government forces decreased by 30 percent compared to the first half of 2009,” it said.
The report said that “in the first half of 2010, there was a 155 percent increase in child deaths through improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks attributable to armed opposition groups as compared to the same period in 2009.”
In many cases, it said, children were killed or injured when anti-government groups’ targets were near residential areas.
Ban expressed “grave concern” at the killing of children by armed groups, including the Taliban, on suspicion that they were spies or allegedly associated with or supporting international military forces.