A Taliban official confirmed a sharp increase in the number of children engaged in child labor in Kunduz and Takhar provinces, saying that some institutions have promised to help them in this respect but added that there is no exact information about the number of these children.
Child labor has been an issue in Afghanistan for years, but it has had a sharp increase in various provinces in the past year after the fall of the republic government in August 2021.
“We are trying to support the families of these children in cooperation with aid organizations,” said Matiullah Rouhani, head of the information and culture department of the Taliban in Kunduz.
Over 1,000 children were engaged in child labor in 2021, according to statistics by the previous government.
Confirming an increase in the number of children engaged in child labor, Saifullah Mubariz, head of the labor department of the Taliban in Takhar, also confirmed the increase in the number of street children in Takhar and said that so far only UNICEF has helped these children in the province and that other institutions have also promised to cooperate.
Many of the children on Kunduz and Takhar streets who spoke to Amu said they are responsible for providing economic support to their families, saying they want to have an opportunity for education.
Samir, a resident of Takhar, 12, says he is doing shoe polish in the city of Kunduz along with two of his brothers to support his 11-member family.
“I work for 40 to 50 AFN a day with which I can only buy a few loaves of bread,” he said.
Dozens of other children, like Samir, are busy doing different hard labor in Kunduz, something that has prevented them from going to school.
In the city of Taluqan in Takhar, the situation is not much different from Kunduz. The children earn little income by doing various hard labor such as shoe polishing, cleaning and washing cars, selling bread, vegetables and fruits and other heavy tasks.
“He works effortlessly in the bazaar and earns more than other children through shoe polishing,” said Mohammad, a Takhar resident, referring to his friend, Ahmad, who is blind but is engaged in child labor to earn some money for his family.
Ibrahim, another child, said his father is ill and cannot work. He said he and his mother are working to afford the needs of their family.
“From dawn to dusk, I sell plastic to earn bread an income,” he added.
Takhar residents said the children should be provided schooling opportunities and their families need to be supported.
“Mafia groups might use these children if they are supported now,” said Omid, a resident of Takhar.
A report by United Nations Children’s Fund shows that at least 24 million people in Afghanistan need urgent humanitarian aid while 13 million children are among those at risk of hunger.