Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
68. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will raise the plight of the dancing boys of Afghanistan, who are young boys in extreme poverty that are being sexually exploited, with the European Union and United Nations. [8700/11]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Conditions in Afghanistan remain difficult. Decades of conflict have taken their toll on the country and its people, leaving much of the Afghan population living in abject poverty. In desperation, some families are forced to sell their children into the illegal practice of “Bacha bazi”. The plight of these children has been highlighted by a number of United Nations officials, including the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed conflict Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, human rights activists and pieces in the media. The reports detailing the horrific sexual abuses these children suffer are deeply disturbing and give cause for great concern.
I welcome the recent launch of a National Action Plan by the United Nations to fight child sex trafficking and recruitment of child soldiers in Afghanistan. The plan, which the Afghan Government is committed to implementing, includes the development of national laws and directives to protect children, civil and military accountability mechanisms for punishing those guilty of child abuse and the initiation of a comprehensive education and community awareness campaign on this issue. As part of this process, the United Nations is currently carrying out a detailed study of “Bacha bazi” in Afghanistan to determine the best means of combating it in the future.
Ireland is committed to supporting the efforts of the international community to establish a democratic and stable government in Afghanistan based on respect for the rule of law and human rights, including the rights of women and children. Since 2007, Ireland has allocated €24.8 million in development assistance to Afghanistan and has committed to providing a further €20 million over the three year period 2010-2012. Ireland’s funding to Afghanistan is channelled through a number of strategic partners and sectors in line with EU commitments and the EU Action Plan for Afghanistan, which includes support for human rights programs. It will take time and determined action to tackle the practice of “Bacha bazi” but both the UN and Afghan Government have now taken the first steps towards protecting the children of Afghanistan. Ireland will continue to lend them its full support in this matter.
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