Half of Afghanistan’s 35 million people are under 18. They are exposed to extreme situations of violence and abusement due to increasing unemployment, a poor economy, and some harmful social norms and practices. When children get 6 years old, they should be enrolled in schools to study, but unfortunately due to increasing poverty and unemployment more than six million Afghan children are out roaming on streets and markets to find bread for other members of their families.
Almost one-half of the Afghan population lives below the poverty line.
According to UN statistics, Afghanistan is the second poorest country in the world. Two in three – or more than 13 million – children in Afghanistan are in desperate need of life-saving aid that’s an increase of more than a third since the start of 2021 as the country descends into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
In Afghanistan, around 20 percent of children are expected to work in order to provide bread for themselves and for their families. Street vendors, water carriers, cardboard collectors, shoe polishers, taxi solicitors, domestic servants, and assistants in boutiques, are the kind of odd jobs done by the Afghan children.
About a quarter of children in Afghanistan between the ages of five and 14 work or help their families. Many children are employed in jobs that can lead to an illness, injury or death due to dangerous working conditions and improper enforcement of safety and health standards.
Children hold jobs in metal industries, agriculture, shoe shiners, and in the streets as vendors. Unfortunately, some children are forced to take on the pressures of going to school and work while others must quit school completely. In addition, children work long hours with little pay or no pay.
The child plays an important economic role in the Afghan family structure, mainly because the little money earned by their parents is hardly enough to feed the hungry mouths in the family.
Additionally, due to cultural practices, Afghan mothers rarely choose to seek employment outside their homes. In this situation, the family relies upon the economic contribution of the child, even if it means the child is left begging on the streets.
Although a number of organizations particularly UNICEF is supporting a strategy for children, designed by the Ministry of Martyrs, Disabled and Social Affairs and partnered with UNICEF and other organizations that will help vulnerable families protect and care for their children, no touchable progress in the life of Afghan children is seen.
It is time that international organizations particularly UNICEF should closely cooperate with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s ministry of labor and social affairs to work on a mechanism to somehow support the Afghan children to be protected from abuse, exploitation or violence in the country as the children are facing with lots of problems in big cities particularly Kabul, the capital.