AFGHANISTAN: Rights watchdog releases gloomy report
Children, especially girls, suffer widespread domestic violence and are often forced into early marriage, AIHRC says
KABUL, 23 December 2008 (IRIN) - Millions of people in Afghanistan are living in poverty, are short of food, lack access to basic services, and are vulnerable to violence despite seven years of international help, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says in a new report.
The AIHRC’s Third National Socio-Economic Report
highlights the challenges facing most ordinary Afghans.
"Most of the vulnerable and isolated areas are without food, and this winter this will cause them major problems," said the report, adding that aid agencies and the government must work to together to prevent a humanitarian crisis this winter.
"Thirty-seven percent of vulnerable populations [vulnerable people living on less than US$2 per day make up 40 percent of the total population according to some estimates] make less than 50 Afghanis [less than US$1] per day," said the report released in English, Dari and Pashto on 23 December in Kabul.
Most rural Afghans do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, while many returnees from neighbouring countries and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in dire conditions.
The government, its partners and aid organisations have failed to meet the needs of millions of returnees from Iran and Pakistan, some of whom have become IDPs and live in makeshift settlements, the report said.
It said 30 percent of those living in rural areas do not have access to public or private health services.
Plight of children
More than half of the country's estimated 26.6 million population are under 17, according to aid agencies, but most have a difficult life.
"Child labour is prevalent in Afghanistan," with most children doing onerous jobs which expose them to serious physical and mental harm, it said.
Children, especially girls, also suffer widespread domestic violence and are often forced into early marriage. "Fifty-five percent of underage marriages were [designed] to solve economic problems," the report said.
Many children, particularly females, are denied the right to education. As a result of attacks on schools, 108 people were killed and 154 injured in 2007. "Only 11 percent of boys and five percent of girls in primary schools carry on to grade 12," according to the report.
The AIHRC called on the government and US-led international forces to boost security, protect health facilities, and also ensure greater effectiveness in the way in which international aid is coordinated and delivered.