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Published on Friday, January 8, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
Afghan Children Are Neglected Casualties of War
2009 has been the deadliest year for Afghan children since 2001, according to the
More than 60% of all child deaths and disabilities are due to respiratory and intestinal infections, and of such vaccine preventable deaths as measles. Widespread malnutrition acutely affects children's growth. It is estimated that 7.5 million children and adults are presently at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
Some cities, such as Jalalabad, the largest city in eastern
To control the spread of the disease, UNICEF and the Department of Public Health in Nangarhar have launched the "Women Courtyard" initiative, aimed at giving local women an understanding of polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases as well as such related issues such as hygiene and water-borne illnesses.
Although this is an important initiative some popular traditions still constitute an impediment to carrying it successfully. One such tradition is that babies shouldn't be taken to the front door before their 40th day after birth, which prevents many newborns from being vaccinated.
To make matters worse, deadly attacks have targeted schools and impeded access to critical health care, according to UNICEF. "We have had attacks on villages and on schools by both anti-government elements as well as by coalition forces and international troops that have hit civilians," stated recently Daniel Toole, UNICEF's
None of the children growing up today in
Exposure to traumatic events has been shown to be associated with serious mental health problems. In this regard, the experience of five or more traumatic events substantially increases the risk of psychiatric disorders and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Children in Afghanistan are exposed not only to violence related to acts of war but also to violence resulting from accidents, beatings by close relatives or neighbors or seeing close relatives being beaten or executed. As a study in the Lancet points out, "In Afghan children's lives, everyday violence matters just as much as militarized violence in the recollection of traumatic experiences."
César Chelala, MD, PhD, is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/08-2
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs