Al Jazeera, March 9, 2007

Afghanistan's starving children

Children in the camp are dying from treatable illnesses such as diaorrhea, but have had no medical help for a year.

By John Cookson in Kandahar

Al Jazeera has discovered that despite billions of dollars of aid being poured into Afghanistan in the past five years Afghan children are still dying because of hunger and poverty.

Kabul in gap of poverty and destitution ( )
RAWA Photo: Childern are the prime victims.

John Cookson travelled to Kandahar province in the south of the country were it is too dangerous to get aid through to the starving population.

In a refugee camp in the Panj-Wayee district Al Jazeera found that the population is in desperate need of a hunger relief programme, but aid agencies are unable to travel in the area because of the risk of attacks by the Taliban or bandits looking to kidnap for ransom.

Children in the camp are dying from treatable illnesses such as diaorrhea, but have had no medical help for a year.

"There is no work, there is no food, there is no money, our kids are dying beacuse of hunger," one man told Al Jazeera.

The 2,000 men, women and children who live in the camp originally fled a drought region but are unable to return because of the fighting between Nato forces and the Taliban.

Ironically, the winners in this story are the Taliban who are offering the men of the camp food and money for work of sorts, as fighters for the group.

- An average of 165 children of every 1,000 born die within a year.
- One in four children does not live past the age of five.
- Average monthly household income in Afghanistan is $6.
Source: Save the Children

"They are easy recruits for the Taliban, to use them against the government and Nato by paying them," Aemal Sherirzad, of the Senlis Council, an international foreign policy thinktank, said.

In Kandahar hospital, doctors and nurses do what they can for the seriously undernourished children but 25 per cent of children cannot expect to live past their fifth birthday.

"I think if both sides stop war and go to the peace, I think it would be better for the people of this country," Dr Mohammed Siddique, a senior paediatrician, said.

The Save the Children charity says the situation in Afghanistan has arisen because many families do not understand basic good nutrition and poverty prevents the ones that do from providing healthy meals to their children and women of childbearing age.

In January, a report from New York-based Human Rights Watch said Afghanistan's international supporter had made "little progress in providing basic needs like security, food, electricity, water and healthcare".

Characters Count: 3197

URL for news «Afghanistan's starving children»