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One child dies every two minutes in Afghanistan

Tom Parry


March 5, 2010

Children in Afghanistan are more likely to die before the age of five than children anywhere else in the world, according to Save the Children.

At the current appalling rate, one child dies every two minutes in the violence-wracked nation.

Afghan school children clamber through rubble.gif

The study shows that last year was also the deadliest for Afghan children since the fall of the Taliban.

More than 1,050 were killed in suicide attacks, air strikes, explosions and crossfire, according to latest figures.

Save the Children insists the true scale of the humanitarian crisis facing the country remains hidden because of the focus on the conflict.

It says: "The international community needs to ensure families across the country - not just those living in the conflict zones - are able to access the clean water, nutritious food and healthcare they need to keep their children alive."

Despite massive medical breakthroughs across the globe a quarter of all children born in Afghanistan die before the age of five.

Meanwhile there has been virtually no improvement in the child mortality rate in the past twenty years.

Nearly 60 per cent of children are malnourished and will not recover from the physical and mental damage done by not having nutritious food early in life.

And in some rural areas 92% of girls aren't able to go to school.

Patrick Watt, Save the Children's Director of Development Policy, says: "Afghanistan's children are facing a massive humanitarian crisis. Despite the millions of pounds that have been spent on winning hearts and minds in the fight against the Taliban, Afghan children now have the worst chance in the world of surviving to their fifth birthday.

"Helmand is among the most heavily aided places on earth per capita, yet tens of thousands of families living outside the immediate conflict zones are struggling to keep their children alive because they can't get medical treatment or provide clean water or nutritious food to keep them healthy.

"More than 850 children die every day, many from easily treatable illnesses like diarrhoea or pneumonia. World leaders need to ensure families across the country - not just those living in the conflict zones - can keep their children alive."

Save the Children also said that the current UK and NATO approach in Afghanistan is "blurring the lines" between military and humanitarian objectives.

Mr Watt adds: "Funding soldiers to carry out humanitarian work such as rebuilding schools threatens the impartiality of aid agencies working on the ground and makes it much more dangerous for us to operate in the country.

"It could also turn hospitals or schools rebuilt with military help into targets and put children's lives at risk.

"It is clear that soldiers involved in the conflict in Afghanistan should not be carrying out sensitive and complex humanitarian work with vulnerable communities. It is only through impartial aid organisations such as Save the Children that essential rebuilding can be done safely and successfully."

:: Article nr. 63920 sent on 06-mar-2010 11:32 ECT


Link: blogs.mirror.co.uk/developing-world-stories/2010/03/one-child-dies-every-two-min

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