STATEMENT: In Response to the Murder of an Afghan Girl Awaiting Evacuation to Canada

December 21, 2021

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan is horrified and saddened by the death at the hands of the Taliban of 10-year-old Nazifa, a little girl waiting with her family to reach safety in Canada. Nazifa’s family exemplifies those Afghans who Canada committed to rescue from such violence when it announced its special immigration measures program and promised to resettle an additional 40,000 particularly vulnerable Afghans.

At 10 years old, Nazifa was learning English, and excited to start her new life in Canada. She should have enjoyed protection from violence, the freedom to grow, learn and play, and the security of knowing that these rights, which are enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, are upheld by governments. Instead, for more than four months, families like Nazifa’s have lived in constant fear of the violence that can end lives at any moment. As Nazifa’s death tragically demonstrates, this violence is often indiscriminate, killing children and youth, women and men, who were seeking safety. 

“As unique and special as this little girl was for her family and community, and as deeply as her loss will be felt by those who love her, the tragic reality is that atrocities like this will not remain isolated,” said CW4WAfghan Board Chair Laila Rashid. She added, “This devastating incident underscores that Canada’s Afghan partners, and any Afghan who worked to promote progressive values generally, are targets for Taliban violence. Further, it points to the Taliban government’s inability to prevent its rank and file forces from continuing to perpetrate human rights abuses including extrajudicial executions, disappearances, unlawful detentions, beatings, and human rights abuses of children. Under these conditions, senseless deaths like Nazifa’s will continue to happen, and amid the ensuing chaos, families like hers have been left to fend for themselves in securing passage to Canada.”

CW4WAfghan urges the Government of Canada to act swiftly in living up to and accelerating its stated commitments to resettle vulnerable Afghans. In addition to the promises made to those who worked as our allies throughout Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, we have a moral obligation to protect the basic rights of children like Nazifa to live their lives free from harm and to realize their full potential in conditions of freedom and security.

We call on the UN and the international community to act swiftly to ensure the values and legal obligations espoused in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – the world’s most ratified human rights treaty – are upheld for the children of Afghanistan too, particularly articles 6, 19, 22, and 27.   

As an organization dedicated to the promotion of women’s rights and children’s rights for all Afghans, particularly the most vulnerable, CW4WAfghan will continue to work tirelessly and passionately to advocate for and build systems that make deaths like Nazifa’s unthinkable. We offer our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones, and together with them, mourn the death of a little girl whose life, dreams and hopes were cut so devastatingly and violently short.