Attacks on schools threaten development in
Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
KABUL, Afghanistan, 3 July 2008 – In spite of
impressive progress made in the past seven years, the
security situation in Afghanistan continues to
threaten the gains made by the country's women and
Girls' enrollment in school is up, as is female
participation in government and in the private sector.
Around the country, health indicators are slowly
However, according to UNICEF's Director of the
Office of Emergency Programmes, Louis-Georges
Arsenault, nearly half the country is still
inaccessible to most humanitarian aid because the
security situation is too dangerous.
'Very refreshing to see'
This week, Mr. Arsenault visited the country for
the first time in seven years. He was UNICEF's
representative there from 1998-2001.
'During the Taliban era, there was no girls'
education available throughout the country and also no
women's employment whatsoever. So what I have seen now
coming back seven years later is very refreshing to
see,' he said.
'This being said, there's a long way to go in terms
of gender issues, gender-based violence because the
fabric of the society does not change overnight.'
On the borders of the country, as a war between the
Taliban and the Afghan government continues, civilians
'In 2007, there were a total of 228 schools which
were attacked, resulting in 75 deaths and 111
injured,' Mr. Arsenault said. 'And this year alone, as
of June 2008 there've been 83 further attacks
resulting in ten deaths and four injured and this is a
very alarming trend.'
UNICEF has begun addressing this problem by getting
local communities more involved in the development
process from the start.
'Days of tranquility'
Abiding insecurity has also made it impossible to
provide health care and services to all those who need
it. Afghanistan is one of four countries in the world
still plagued by polio; without the ability of health
groups to move freely throughout the country, proper
medicine and inoculations are impossible.
UNICEF and other aid groups have been negotiating
with the government and the Taliban for 'days of
tranquility' during which humanitarian groups can take
advantage of the cease-fire to provide countrywide
inoculations and reach those most affected by
violence. Negotiations are ongoing.