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Kabul, Afganistan. Photo: MTI/AP/Altaf Kadri

The 40-year-old conflict in Afghanistan is having a devastating impact on children and parties are failing in their duty to shield them from its consequences, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report released on Tuesday.

Preserving Hope in Afghanistan: Protecting Children in the World’s Most Lethal Conflict notes that in the first nine months of 2019, an average of nine children were killed or maimed every day, which marks an 11 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018 and is largely due to a surge in suicide bomb attacks and ground engagements between pro- and anti-government forces.

“Even by Afghanistan’s grim standards, 2019 has been particularly deadly for children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“Children, their families and communities suffer the horrific consequences of conflict each and every day. We can, and must, do so much more to reinforce their extraordinary courage and resilience,” Fore said.

Between 2009 and 2018, nearly 6,500 children were killed and almost 15,000 others injured, helping make Afghanistan the world’s most lethal war zone in 2018, according to the report.

Besides the direct impact of violence, children’s lives are also being blighted by the combined effects of natural disasters, poverty, and under-development, according to UNICEF.

According to the report, 3.8 million children need humanitarian assistance; one in three girls marries before her 18th birthday; 3.7 million school-aged children are out of school;

600,000 children under the age of five are severely malnourished.

Working through partners, UNICEF is also providing treatment to 277,000 severely malnourished children. But the program needs to be substantially scaled up if another 300,000 children in need are to be reached.

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Source: Xinhua – UNITED NATIONS

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