UN Children’s Fund reports favourable progress in Afghanistan

20 November 2003

Since the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan two years ago, much progress has been made for the country’s women and children, including the immunization of 16 million children against measles and 12 million against polio, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today.

Congratulating partners in government, non-government organizations, fellow UN agencies and local communities for making such progress possible, the UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, Sharad Sapra, also noted that more than 700,000 women had received life-saving tetanus vaccinations.

Two new centres of excellence in maternal health had been opened in Kabul, the capital, and Jalalabad, in the east, and 4 million children, including 1.2 million girls, had returned to school, restoring the boy-to-girl ratio to what it was before the Taliban took power and banned the schooling of girls, Mr. Sapra said in a statement released in Kabul.

“That means a seven-year education deficit has been wiped out in just 24 months,” he added, noting that 50,000 primary school teachers had also been trained.

Reassuring the Afghan people of UNICEF’s long-term commitment to the reconstruction process, Mr. Sapra declared: “UNICEF never left Afghanistan over the last five decades. Even in the darkest hours, our Afghan staff continued to deliver vital services for children and women.”

But he added that it was crucial Afghanistan did not slip from the donors’ radar screens among all the other global issues attracting international attention. “If it does, then the world will have failed the very women and children that it promised never to forget just two years ago.”


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