Expert: According to international law, Norway is obliged to take in wounded Afghan children

Afghanistan - childrenPhoto: Sgt. Samuel Ruiz / U.S. Marine Corps via AP

Norway has the duty to take in sick and injured Afghan children, international law expert Gro Nystuen told news bureau NTB.

“It is not primarily the Convention on the Rights of the Child that applies in this situation. This is a situation that is characterized by the fact that it is the chaotic final phase of a long-standing armed conflict,” Nystuen, the assistant director at the Norwegian Institute for Human Rights (NIM), stated.

The statement comes after pediatrician Monica Thallinger criticized the decision to evacuate children with unknown identities to Norway.

“The best thing for the children is to be with their parents. I do not think it is right to take a child to Norway when you do not know who the parents are,” Thallinger said.

Evacuation of children from the field hospital

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) confirmed that Norway evacuated several children who were staying at the Norwegian field hospital in Kabul. 

Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen stated that the identity and parents of all the children are not known.

The children have thus been taken in by the public apparatus in Norway. Denmark, for its part, has stated that it does not want to take children without confirmed identities. 

Thallinger referred to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that children have the right to live with their parents and know who their parents are, as far as possible. She believes the Armed Forces should have had closer contact with organizations that work with children’s legal security in Afghanistan.

International law aspect

On the other hand, Nystuen believes that international law and the Geneva Conventions override the Convention on the Rights of the Child in this situation.

“What applies to rules of international law in this situation is an unconditional duty to provide adequate medical assistance to those who are victims of this conflict, whether they are ill or injured,” she said.

Thus, the evacuation to Norway is not just something Norway can do, but it can be a duty, according to Nystuen. At the same time, it is not the case that the children have now been taken out from Afghanistan forever.

Should be reunited with the parents if possible

“The question is what happens when the children land on Norwegian soil. Then the Convention on the Rights of the Child applies. In addition, medically evacuated people from a conflict should in principle be repatriated,” Nystuen added.

Down the road, Norway should find out who the children and parents are and reunite them in Afghanistan.

“If it is not possible, and we have children in Norway whose identity is not known, then we have to look at the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Then, of course, you have to do what you can to secure the child.”

But as long as the child is in the chaotic war zone that Kabul is today, then the emergency law regime established by the Geneva Conventions applies – the international law of war, she noted.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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1 Comment on "Expert: According to international law, Norway is obliged to take in wounded Afghan children"

  1. Heaven help the Afghans. We should never have gone to war in Afghanistan (or Iraq) on a (9/11) lie.
    It is moving to see Norway open its heart and doors to Afghan refugees, but it never should have had to do so.

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