News - Afghanistan
Groups of Afghan children said mostly to be under the age of 15 have picked arms in a number of southern provinces to fight the Taliban.
Although the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has said that arming Afghan youth is not necessary, it has also not outright denied any involvement in the matter.
The children are said to be motivated by their hatred for the Taliban, a group responsible for many deaths, injuries and destruction in their communities. "They [the Taliban] killed my father, and I will not leave my country to them so long as I am alive," one of the child soldiers told TOLOnews.
The exact location and identities of the youth militia members have not be disclosed for security reasons.
Predictably, human rights groups have responded by unequivocally denouncing the involvement of children in combat, and pointing out that such activities directly violates international conventions that the government of Afghanistan is a signatory of.
"According to Human Rights Laws, which Afghanistan has also signed, these conventions are known as the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits this issue, where underage children cannot be used on armed front lines," Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) spokesman Rafi Bedar said. "Young children are still recruited among local police forces," he added, suggesting there may be some institutional backing for the youth militias behind the scenes.
Nevertheless, MoI officials have sought to distance themselves, asserting that there is no need for them to arm youth militias. "Overall, we are against the arming of individuals, because we have enough security forces in Afghanistan," deputy spokesman Najeeb Danesh said on Thursday. "We have around 400,000 armed forces who can play an important role in maintaining security for Afghanistan's citizens."