Statement by ECPC Chair Rima Salah on Children in Afghanistan

The ECPC urgently calls for investment in early childhood services and strategies in all humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan.

Afghan woman is holding a placard showing Afghan children suffering from the Taliban regime, during the demonstration in support of Afghanistan taking place in Amsterdam, on August 28th, 2021. (Photo by Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via AP)

Statement by Rima Salah, PhD on behalf of the ECPC

NEW YORK, 01 September 2021 — As the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan worsens, the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) echoes the call from the international community to prioritize the increasing and urgent need for humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable populations, particularly young children and families. In addition to rising insecurity and existing crises like displacement and COVID-19, approximately 10 million children in Afghanistan are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance today, and thousands more are suffering violations to their rights.[1] The conflict in Afghanistan is one of the deadliest for children, with 6,473 grave violations against children being reported in the last two years, and the last 8 months seeing the highest frequency ever of children killed and maimed in Afghanistan.[2]

The ECPC is deeply concerned for the safety, health and development of young children in and fleeing from Afghanistan. In line with the United Nations Secretary-General’s statement, the ECPC is committed to working with the international community in response to this crisis. We strongly support the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s call to governments, donors and all responsible parties to support humanitarian operations and protect the rights of Afghans, including refugees. We stand in solidarity with the United Nations organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have committed to continue their work to protect the children, women and girls in Afghanistan, and reiterate the statements made by UNICEF, UN Women, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and her joint statement with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children.

Along with our partners in the Moving Minds Alliance and the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN), the ECPC urges all parties to elevate the protection of young children in Afghanistan, as conflict and violence can have an extremely harmful impact on young children’s physical and mental health, social and emotional development, safety, and economic security, affecting their immediate and long-term development and well-being. Early childhood development services and strategies can not only mitigate the consequences of adversities facing Afghanistan’s children today, they can also lay a foundation for peace, resilience, justice, and social cohesion that are critical to communities’ and the nation’s recovery.

The ECPC entreats governments, policy makers and community leaders to safeguard the increasingly undermined rights of young children living in fragile contexts and to prioritize investment in their survival, development and protection. Together, we must ensure that young Afghan children are not forgotten amidst this humanitarian crisis, already compounded by the pandemic. [3,4]

The time to invest in their — and our — shared futures in a just world — is now.

Statement contributions by Aditi Shrikhande, ECPC Expert Consultant.

About the ECPC

The Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) is a global movement of United Nations agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, academia, practitioners, and the private sector focused on sharing scientific and practice-based evidence on how investment in early childhood development (ECD) can contribute to sustainable peace, social cohesion and social justice. We recognize that investing in ECD is a powerful and cost-effective strategy for reducing violence, poverty, and exclusion and for building peaceful societies.

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Our mission is to create an inclusive movement for peace, social cohesion, social justice, and the prevention of violence through early childhood strategies.