Taliban child soldier recruitment surges

New York, Feb 17 (IANS) Taliban forces in Afghanistan have added scores of children to their ranks since mid-2015 in violation of the international law, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

New Human Rights Watch research shows that the Taliban have been training and deploying children for various military operations including the production and planting of improvised explosive devices.

In Kunduz province, the Taliban have increasingly used madrasas or Islamic religious schools to provide military training to children between the ages of 13 and 17, many of whom have been deployed in combat, it said.

“The Taliban’s apparent strategy to throw increasing numbers of children into battle is as cynical and cruel as it is unlawful,” said Patricia Gossman at Human Rights Watch.

“Afghan children should be at school and at home with their parents, not exploited as cannon fodder for the Taliban insurgency.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed relatives of 13 children recruited as Taliban soldiers over the past year, and verified these claims through interviews with civil society activists, political analysts and the UN.

Despite Taliban claims that they only enlist fighters who have achieved “mental and physical maturity” and do not use “boys with no beards” in military operations, some of the children recruited from madrasas in Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces are 13 or younger.

The Taliban have previously denied the use of children and adolescents in jihadic operations.

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