A new UN report revealed that the US forces in Afghanistan have killed hundreds of children since the last five years.
The Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) said the deaths were “due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force”. It gave no precise statistics.
A UN report in April last year said 110 children were killed and 68 wounded in air strikes conducted by US-led NATO and Afghan forces in 2011.
The committee’s report also expressed concern that troops responsible for the killing of children had not always been held accountable and that family grievances had not been redressed.
The US forces statement said that in each case in which civilians are killed, “military officials make every effort to meet with the families of those we have harmed and to express our condolences personally”.
The CRC’s comments came after a five-yearly review of US compliance with an international treaty on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
It said it was “alarmed at reports of the death of hundreds of children as a result of attacks and air strikes by the US military forces in Afghanistan over the reporting period”.
“The committee expresses grave concern that in fact the number of casualties of children doubled from 2010 to 2011.”
“The US can and should do more to protect children affected by armed conflict,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, a watchdog based in New York.
She called on the US to heed the committee’s recommendations, which include taking “concrete and firm precautionary measures and prevent indiscriminate use of force” to ensure that no more civilians and children are killed.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Wednesday also expressed deep concern at the arrest and detention of Afghan children by US-led forces.
According to the UN report, some of the children were abused in US detention facilities. The committee called on the US to take measures to prevent the killing and maiming of civilians and children.