CHILDREN ARE SAFER growing up in Kabul than in London, Glasgow or New York, according to a Nato official.
Mark Sedwill said that despite of the ongoing war in the country, Afghanistan’s capital city was generally better for young people than many western cities. Speaking to CBBC’S Newsround, he said:
It’s a very family-orientated society, so it’s a bit like a city of villages. Most children can go about their lives in safety.
However, Save the Children said the claim was “wrong and misleading” – the charity’s chief executive Justin Forsyth said:
Afghanistan is the worst place on earth to be born a child. One in four children living there will die before they reach the age of five.
Last year was the deadliest for children since late 2001, with more than a thousand killed because of the conflict.
The country also suffers from low rates of education, particularly among girls.
According to UNHCR there are some 240,000 internally displaced Afghans. Children face a wide range of protection concerns, including child labor, smuggling and human trafficking, and early or forced marriage.
Because of the ongoing conflict and the the threat of indiscriminate suicide bombings in Afghanistan, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs tells all citizens, unequivocally, not to travel to the country.
Speaking to the BBC, several young Afghans said that felt unsafe in the city. Sohrad, a 16-year-old student, said:
Because of explosions happening in the city, it is frightening when we come to school. We are afraid of explosions in the school.
After his statement prompted incredulity, Sedwill attempted to clarify his message saying:
I was trying to explain to an audience of British children how uneven violence is across Afghanistan.
For most Afghans, the biggest challenges are from poverty – the absence of clean water, open sewers, malnutrition, disease – and many more children are at risk from those problems than from the insurgency.