Published: Sunday 15 March 1998

The United Nations (UN) Children's Fund (UNICEF) is calling for support for efforts to raise the minimum recruitment age for children in the armed forces. A working group in Geneva is dealing with the issue. It will be drafting an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that would raise the conscription age to 18 years. "The efforts we have deployed so far have been insufficient to spare children from the scourge of war," UNICEF's deputy regional director for Europe Bilge Ogun said. "This protocol will prevent history from being repeated," he concluded.

Early this month, the UN appealed for US $157 million to ensure continuing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, a war-torn nation that currently has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in Asia. The money would be distributed according to a common assistance strategy developed by the UN, non-governmental organisations and the donor governments. The strategy is aimed at forging closer links between peacemaking efforts and relief and developmental activities. The appeal for Afghanistan will address priority needs in the areas of food security and food aid, primary health-care services, rural and urban rehabilitation, mine action and drug control.

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