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Last update: December 2020

Due to lack of recent information on the topic, the analysis concerning this topic has not been updated in the current version of the country guidance. When examining the international protection needs related to child recruitment, please consider the most up-to-date country of origin information available.

An element to take into account is that it is not currently clear whether the Taliban government intends to adhere to international treaties that Afghanistan has previously entered into. Similarly, there is no clarity regarding the status and relevance of pre-existing national laws.

COI summary

Article 3 of the Afghan Law on the prohibition of child recruitment in the military institutions prohibited child recruitment in the military units. Article 4 of the same law envisaged a punishment for the perpetrators from six months to one-year imprisonment. However, despite past progress made by the ANSF in preventing child recruitment, the use of children by ANSF remained a concern in 2019. Even though to a lesser extent than the ALP, the ANP continued to use children in combat and in support roles at checkpoints. Moreover, it was observed that Afghan security forces, in particular the ALP, recruited boys specifically to use them for bacha bazi (sexual exploitation of children) in every province of the country [State structure, 2.1, 2.1.1, 2.1.3; Security 2020, 1.4.5].

Noting that the number of recruited children must be higher than reported, UNAMA documented the recruitment and use of 64 boys in 2019: 58 by the Taliban, 3 by the ANSF, and 3 by pro-government armed groups (ALP and PGMs). As for 2020, an increase in the number of reports in connection to the recruitment and use of children by the ANSF across the country was reported, however reports had not been verified yet [Security 2020, 1.4.5; Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 2.2.5].

Boys recruited by the Taliban were used to plant IEDs, carry explosives, collect intelligence, conduct suicide attacks, and engage in hostilities. It was also indicated that the Taliban used children as suicide bombers by manipulating them with money or false religious justifications or by forcing them. In southern provinces, the Taliban used children not only as suicide bombers but also as human shields, or to plant IEDs. In exchange, the Taliban paid money to some families and provided protection to others who sent their children to the Taliban’s schools (madrasas). Most of the children who were exposed to such risks came from poor families or rural areas. Some children were also reportedly taken to Pakistan for military training [Anti-government elements, 2.4.1; Security 2020, 1.4.5; Recruitment by armed groups,].

Recruitment of teenagers and youth is also part of ISKP’s recruitment strategies [Anti-government elements, 3.4].

See also 2.4. Persons fearing forced recruitment by armed groups and 2.8.1. Violence against children: overview.

Risk analysis

Child recruitment is of such severe nature that it would amount to persecution.

Not all children would face the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution in the form of child recruitment. The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: gender, poor socio-economic situation, area of origin or residence, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

The individual circumstances of the applicant need to be taken into account to determine whether a nexus to a reason for persecution can be substantiated.