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'Children worst sufferers in Afghan conflict'

The ongoing violence in Afghanistan has taken a heavy toll on the nation's children, who continue to be victims of attacks, have been sexually abused and used as combatants.

world Updated: Jul 04, 2008 18:57 IST

The ongoing violence in Afghanistan has taken a heavy toll on the nation's children, who continue to be victims of attacks, have been sexually abused and used as combatants, the UN envoy for children has said.

"I can't think of any country in the world in which children suffer more than in Afghanistan," Radhika Coomaraswamy, Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said in a statement made available in Newyork on Thursday.

"Because you not only have terrible violations that occur during war but also terrible poverty and hard work that they have to engage in," she said at the end of a five-day visit.

Coomaraswamy said that one of the grave violations against children in armed conflict is killing and maiming, and during her visit she met many such victims of attacks by the Taliban and other anti-government elements.

The envoy also met President Hamid Karzai and other government officials, representatives of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) military forces, aid agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and children themselves.

Besides, she met victims of operations by international forces, including children who had been maimed by aerial bombardment and night raids.

"We had discussions with ISAF and OEF commanders on how they should minimize this collateral damage with clear directions and procedures," she said.

The Special Representative voiced concern over recruitment and use of children as combatants, saying she had credible information of an increase in the number of children in combat in the last few months, as well as verified reports of individual cases of suicide bombers.