UNICEF urges Afghanistan's new law-makers to help children

18 December 2005
Afghan children

With an historic new Parliament scheduled to be inaugurated in Afghanistan tomorrow, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is urging its newly elected members to ensure that children are top of the new assembly's agenda.

With an historic new Parliament scheduled to be inaugurated in Afghanistan tomorrow, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is urging its newly elected members to ensure that children are top of the new assembly's agenda.

Afghanistan has some of the worst development indicators in the world, and many Afghans are looking to the new National Assembly and provincial councils to focus on issues such as education, health care and economic regeneration.

In a letter to the 249 members of the Lower House of the National Assembly, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan, Bernt Aasen, highlighted the challenges facing the country and appealed for their support to meet the needs of children.

He pointed out that more than 2 million primary school-age children are not enrolled in classes, more than half of them girls.

Over 600 children under the age of five die every day in Afghanistan because of preventable illnesses and at least 50 women die every day in Afghanistan because of complications in pregnancy and childbirth, the letter noted.

Asking the new parliamentarians to make the development of women and children a priority for their term in office, he underscored the value of investing in women and children. “Healthy and educated children make a productive contribution to the prosperity of the country when they reach adulthood. Literate women enjoy a safer motherhood. These are amongst the core ingredients of a successful nation.”

The members of the lower house have also received specially prepared provincial fact sheets, compiled by UNICEF with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The fact sheets identify specific challenges facing women and children in each of Afghanistan's provinces, and recommend key policy actions to improve their status.

In January, UNICEF will begin a new three year programme of cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan, aimed at tackling the high rates of child and maternal mortality, and low enrolment of girls in school.

 

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