November 27, 2009
Afghan children die of ‘neglect’ – 27 Nov 2009
Afghan refugees who fled the war-torn south have claimed they are so neglected by the government in Kabul that their children are dying from hypothermia for want of the most basic supplies.
Families that left Helmand, Kandahar and other provinces to escape the fighting between US-led forces and a resurgent Taliban say the cold is much more lethal.
Living in a make-shift camp on the edge of Kabul, residents told Al Jazeera’s James Bays that no government official has ever come to see how they have been forced to live.
The claim comes as UN officials say Afghan children are suffering disastrous levels of abuse and deprivation.
At a news conference marking the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child this week, officials said childrens rights were being neglected despite vast flows of Western aid into the country.
Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world, said Catherine Mbengue, country representative for the UN childrens fund UNICEF.
Seventy percent of the population has no access to safe drinking water. Thirty percent of children are involved in child labour. Forty-three percent of girls are married under-age, she said.
More than one in four children born in Afghanistan die before the age of five, according to UNICEF estimates.