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Agreement to End Child Recruitment in Afghan Police

An Afghan boy leads a donkey through the Arghandab Valley of Kandahar province in 2010. The Afghan government …KABUL (AFP) – The Afghan government and the United Nations on Sunday agreed to stop underage recruitment by the Afghan security forces and stem a range of violations against children in the conflict.

The agreement aims to "prevent under-age recruitment into the Afghan National Security Forces as well as other violations committed against children in the context of the conflict," a statement said.

Faced with a need to swell the ranks of the Afghan army and police forces, minors have been enlisted with some treated as sex slaves by local military commanders, it added.

Although Kabul officially bans the recruitment of children under 18 years of age, insufficient measures to verify age, low levels of birth registration and the easy manipulation of age in national identity cards have driven an increase in underage recruitment.

Sunday's agreement aims to boost the birth registrations system and the issuance of national IDs, as well as to prosecute those responsible for underage recruitment while helping children reintegrate back into society.

Afghanistan last year was blacklisted in the UN Secretary General's report on children and armed conflict for the use of minors by the Afghan National Police.

The UN had also received reports of suicide attacks carried out by children or who were used to plant explosives by armed groups, at times unknowingly.

Between September 2008 and late August 2010, some 1,800 children were injured or killed due to conflict-related violence.

Others are being detained by the Afghan government and coalition forces on charges related to national security, the UN said.

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