Child Labour (working children 7-14): 24%
Child Marriage (girls married under 18): 43%
Street children in Kabul: 37,000
Children living in institutions: 8,000
Children associated with armed groups & armed forces demobilized from 2003 to 2005: 7,444
The Children’s Act in Afghanistan may not yet be firmly in place, but it’s being developed by some key players here in Afghanistan. With any development, it takes time, but step by step we’ll see changes in Afghanistan that will protect children for generations to come. This is a cutting edge time to be in Afghanistan, to see new procedures being established, better practices and higher standards of care.
But this is a journey, and though it can be very exciting and encouraging, there are times where you feel like you are hitting a brick wall and the discouragement sets in. But as a local and international community, we press on… because we know change will come.
It’s through some very difficult cases like the reintegration of deported unaccompanied Afghan children, or a baby at risk of death and needing to be adopted, that good practices and procedures can be established. Sometimes mistakes are made along the way, but everyone is learning and sometimes by making the mistakes, a more water tight procedure can be put in place. I’ve been so impressed by the local and international organisations, and local Govt. bodies dedicated to the protection and well being of Afghanistan’s children, things will change… it may be slow… but it will come.
Recently, a difficult case of deported unaccompanied children brought with it much attention. Over the years, hundreds of unaccompanied Afghan children deported back to Afghanistan from both neighbouring countries and much further away, have been reintegrated to relatives in a country that was for many no doubt a whole new world. This more recent case challenged an unchallenged system, and changes were made, where the children’s protection was the primary focus, both present and future. Through this case new procedures have been set that with support of Government and civil society means children will be safely reintegrated to families that have first been assessed, and where good follow up is in place, ensuring children are well looked after, in school and with good future prospects – this is fantastic progress.
Adoption and fostering is a whole new domain for Afghanistan, but as in the deportation case, new frontiers are being crossed and the possibilities and hope for the neediest of children are opening up…