Tue, Nov 23, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Kabul ‘safer for children’ than London, NY: NATO

AFP, KABUL

Children may be safer in the Afghan capital than in London or New York despite a deadly nine-year Taliban insurgency, NATO’s top civilian representative in the country has said.

“The children are probably safer here than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities,” Mark Sedwill told the BBC children’s television news program Newsround, which was to be aired yesterday.

The former British ambassador to Kabul was responding to a question about Afghan children who had told the program that they felt unsafe on the streets because of the risk of bomb attacks.

Sedwill said there were “very few of those bombs” in Kabul and other major Afghan cities, according to a statement from the BBC.

“Most children can go about their lives in safety. It’s a very family-orientated society. So, it is a little bit like a city of villages,” he said.

Civilian casualties are at their highest this year since the start of the US-led invasion to oust the hardline Islamist Taliban from power in late 2001.

The UN said in August that 1,271 Afghan civilians were killed in the first six months of the year, a rise of one third over the same period last year, mostly in insurgent attacks.

The UN report also noted a 55 percent increase in casualties among children.

The UN children’s agency said last year that deteriorating security was harming children in Afghanistan, with attacks targeting schools and preventing access to vital healthcare.

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