The endless agony of war for Afghan children

Two months ago Aman, 10, was serving breakfast with his siblings when a battle erupted in his neighborhood in the northern Baghlan province. Though they hid themselves in a corner of their house, a rocket hit the house. After hours-long search, Aman found her sister dead under the rubbles. Aman had been injured and went unconscious for a while.

The incident has largely impacted the child’s social behavior and made him to live in traumas. Before the incident, he used to socialize with his friends and play football. After the incident, his family, fearing further losses to the violence, moved to the northern Balkh province. The family is now living in a very poor condition in Balkh and Aman has no warm cloth for the winter. “I missed my friends and village. I want to go back and meet them again,” the child said with sadness and disappointment.

The ongoing war has caused pains and sufferings across Afghanistan, particularly for the children whose lives are devastated forever and are left with the lasting traumas. In addition to destruction and high tolls of daily casualties, hundreds of women have been widowed, hundreds of children were either orphaned or disabled as the result of war. The extent of trauma that the children have gone through and disabilities that they suffer from have darkened the future for them. It has hit the Afghan children indiscriminately in every corner of the country.

Basmena is another child whose life has been devastated by the ongoing war. Nine months ago, she lost her father in an explosion in Ghani Khel district of the eastern Nangarhar province. Her father loved her the most for she was his one and only daughter. His father’s death traumatized Bassmena at an extent that she quitted her school studies. She has nightmares and cries for her big loss during the days. She puts her father’s photograph under her pillow when decides to sleep. Though her father was killed and her house was destroyed nine months ago, Bassmena has neither laughed nor has worn a new cloth since then. Her only wish is to live in peace.

The nine-year-old Hamida is a war victim, who lost three fingers on her right hand in a rocket attack, last year, in the northern Faryab province. One evening, when Hamida was studying her lesson along with her three brothers, a rocket hit their gathering. Hamida lost all her three brothers and she was severely wounded. Hamida’s mother was busy baking bread in her kitchen. “I got fainted after the rocket hit our house. My whole body was covered with blood when I re-opened my eyes,” she reminds the scene after the attack which forced her family to flee Faryab and seek shelter in Balkh province. The deadly incident has put lasting impacts on her family, particularly on herself and her mother. Hamida is now suffering from insomnia, sunk in worries, and awaits an uncertain future. Her mother is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Hamida wishes for the day, when she can go back to her village and start school again. She wishes for a day, when no child’s finger bleed due to war or explosion.

There are hundreds of war victims who have suffered even further, endured huge losses, and live in uncertainty. The bitter realities of each of these children are disappointing. The pain and grief of thousands of children, young people, and adolescents in Afghanistan must be heard by the government and international communities. The grief of a mother who raises her children with great difficulty and dreams, and a war in which she has no role, takes the first victim from her, is horrific.

Though the warring parties are engaged in the ongoing peace talks and tries to leverage any means, even further killing of civilians and innocent children, to protect their interest in a post-peace settlement, the war victims have no role in the talks. The pains and sorrows of the war victims must be heard. Their demands and rights should be the basis of peace talks. Victims of war must be given a key role in peace talks in order to have a sustainable peace and Afghanistan in which “no child” have his/her finger injured in rocket attacks or other war-related blasts.

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