UNICEF official warns of continuing threats to Afghan women and children

With Afghanistan’s new school year officially beginning tomorrow, a senior United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official has warned of a continued threat facing Afghan women and children from high rates of child and maternal mortality, low levels of school enrolment and neglect of children’s fundamental rights.“With more children in school than ever before in Afghanistan, school gates across Afghanistan will open again tomorrow for a new academic year – but at least one in two girls who should be in classes will remain at home,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah said.“One in five children in this country do not survive long enough even to reach school age. Others will drop out of school, to support their families. This is a tragedy that threatens progress made in recent years,” she added on the third day of a weeklong visit to a country where 600 children under the age of five and 50 women die every day, due to preventable illnesses and obstetric complications respectively.Ms. Salah called on the international community to increase support to development programmes for women and children. “Unless the world makes tangible commitments to the Government and people of Afghanistan, increasing investment in core services such as health, education and protection of children, development will continue to be constrained,” she said.She also noted that the recent spate of incidents against schools in some areas was undermining the cause of development. “Attacks against education are attacks against the most basic rights of all Afghan people,” she said.

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