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As children across Serbia enjoy their summer break, for some children the next school year can’t start soon enough. It may be their first chance to get an education. The Serbian government formally pledged in June that all children with…
Marina  [pseudonym], a 4-year-old girl with developmental disabilities who spent ten months of her life in an institution, with her foster sister. © 2015 Jasenko Rasol for Human Rights Watch
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The London summit this week could kick-start the revival of the stalled reform process in the region – but won’t if human rights and the rule of law stay off the agenda

  Western Balkan and European Union leaders meet in London this week for a summit that could be a chance to revive stalled reforms and focus attention on critical issues. Unfortunately, there is every chance it will turn out to be full of hot…
Migrants are seen in front of a dorm destroyed during Bosnian 1992-1995 war, in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina May 11, 2018.
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(London/Washington D.C.)  -- “I never come here, just because of boys,” Atifa says, pointing at the door of the stall. “They’re opening the door.” Atifa, a sixth grader in Kabul, Afghanistan, attends a school of 650 girls. Since they study in tents…
Girls in Afghanistan -- And everywhere else -- Need toilets
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“My sister finished the first year at school, but then she got tired and decided to leave. She walked four hours each way every day, so that made her tired,” Sabina, 12, who grew up in rural Balkh province, said. Sabina was able to study starting at age…
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Urge to Press the Government for Action Is Long Gone

“This is not a side event. This is the main event,” several speakers said at the – yes – side event on women’s empowerment the day before the October 5 donor conference on Afghanistan in Brussels. The donor session, for all its warm glow, highlighted the…
DATE IMPORTED:October 05, 2016(Front Row L-R) Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, President Ashraf Ghani, European Council President Donald Tusk, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, U.S.
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Gales of laughter greeted my question: “So, which is worse, ISIS or the Taliban?” I was speaking to a room full of women who had recently fled areas in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province controlled by groups claiming allegiance to the…
An Afghan woman in Chaghchran capital of Ghor province June 2, 2014.
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Since the 2001 U.S.-led military intervention in Afghanistan, Western countries have invested heavily in education there. But as security across the country deteriorates, schools in many places are under threat, not only from resurgent…
2016-May-Afghanistan-1
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Oped on cnn.com

This week kicks off one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Millions will set out for Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates how refugees from religious persecution found freedom in a new land. I’ll be one of those traveling. And while I’m looking…
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This week, reality struck home for Afghanistan over the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Ratified by Afghanistan in 2003 during the early heady post-Taliban days when it seemed like a bright future for…
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“My children asked and asked, ‘When can we go outside?’ but we could not answer,” Safia A., an Afghan refugee, told me. “We are responsible parents, but we have no answers for them.” Safia was speaking of the year when the Indonesian government detained…
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'We kept climbing higher and higher as the boat was sinking,'' Arif B. told me, describing how he spent three nights clinging to a sinking boat as he tried to reach Australia. Many of his fellow passengers died, he said.   Arif was only 15 when he fled…
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Picture your 16-year-old son, brother, cousin or friend. Picture him without his parents in a strange country, where he is picked up by uniformed officials and put on a plane alone. Picture him dropped off in a strife-ridden city, like Kabul or Baghdad,…
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With Brussels increasingly the most influential actor in Kosovo, the European Commission annual progress report is a key benchmark for its performance on human rights. The latest report, published yesterday, rightly highlights the ongoing weakness of…
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Many Afghan children who come to Europe are second or third generation refugees who hardly remember "their" country

When I interview Afghan children who make their journey alone to Europe I'm almost always drawn into a family history that intersects with the myriad conflicts that have made life in Afghanistan so difficult and dangerous. Ten days ago, two sisters, ages…
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In the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, the government of the warlord Ismail Khan recently applied new rules rolling back educational opportunities for women and girls. Men may no longer teach women or girls in private classes. Girls and boys are no…