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Aid to Afghan Children Critical Warns Save the Children

The war in Afghanistan appears closer to meeting goals, but the humanitarian crisis is long from over. The humanitarian organization Save the Children says assistance for Afghanistan's children should be a key concern in any aid effort to the area. The international relief organization has been in the war-ravaged country for over 15 years, but now faces a critical point in its work.

Facing disease, displacement, malnutrition, landmines, and death, Afghanistan's children have little to look forward to. Save the Children, an international child development agency, says most Afghan children do not know what it's like to live in peace. Even before the current crisis, children in Afghanistan endured years of civil war, drought, and extreme poverty.

The organization's director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Andrew Wilder, says Afghanistan is now one of the world's most dangerous countries for children. "We know that one in a quarter of Afghanistan's children will die before their 5th birthday, one in five is born today in a refugee camp, and less than 12 percent have access to safe drinking water," he says.

Save the Children says Afghanistan's 10 million children have 10 million landmines to be weary of, while education is among the poorest in the world and virtually non-existent for girls.

Director of Program Operations in Asia, Nilgun Ogun, says education is the best investment and a way to secure the future for the children of Afghanistan. "Where some people see devastation and despair, I see hope. I see it in these children that if given the education and health care, it may restore economic and social stability to the Afghan people."

But Save the Children will first be working in the coming weeks to prepare for the harsh winter in Afghanistan where food, health, heat, and the protection of children remain immediate concerns. In a country where even before September 11, there was one doctor for every 50,000 people, Save the Children says it is looking at a difficult, but not impossible, task.