Child Alert - Afghanistan - Martin Bell Reports on Children Caught in War UNICEF

UNICEF photo: A community-based school, Herat Province.

© UNICEF/HQ07-1106/Noorani

A community-based school, Herat Province.

Three radio reports by Martin Bell

On the front lines against polio

AUDIO: listen (Real Player)

At Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, all children under five are immunized against polio by an Afghan team on one side of the border working in tandem with a Pakistani team on the other. The crossing is open for 12 hours a day. About 8,000 people use it every day, and 800 of the youngest children receive the vaccine. Dr. Arshad Qudous of the World Health Organization believes that a victory over polio in Afghanistan is possible, by 2008. "It will be a historic victory and it will be a moment of pride for Afghanistan," he says.

Education: A question of safety
AUDIO: listen (Real Player)

Girls are particularly affected by insurgents’ targeting of their schools and even of the pupils themselves. Zarmina, 12, and her 13-year-old sister, Shukria, were among 1,200 pupils at the Qalai Sayedan School. Two gunmen lay in wait for the girls as they left the school. Shukria was shot in cold blood by the assailants, one of three fatalities that day, in the fourth attack on the same school. The effects of such violence could be as devastating as the attacks on the schools themselves, threatening Afghanistan’s development for the next generation.

Literacy comes to the community
AUDIO: listen (Real Player)

In Kandahar women are attending literacy classes for the first time in their lives. Allowed by their husbands to attend the classes – out of sight of other males – the women are learning traditional needlework and embroidery as well as how to read and write. Around the country, destitute children are also receiving vocational training and literacy classes, provided by the Aschiana Programme. With an economy devastated by years of conflict, literacy plays a crucial role in bringing hope for a better future.