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Afghanistan launches national strategy for children at risk

Government and partners commit to improved care and support to most vulnerable children

KABUL, 15 May 2006 – The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will launch a new National Strategy for Children at Risk on Tuesday 16 May, designed to improve care and support for the country’s most vulnerable children.

The strategy, designed by the Ministry of Martyrs, Disabled and Social Affairs, with support from UNICEF and other partners, sets out to improve provision of care for street working children, orphans, children in conflict with the law, children deprived of parental care, children suffering abuse as well as other vulnerable children and families.  According to UNICEF estimates, at least 20 per cent of primary school age children in Afghanistan undertake some form of work, while some 80 per cent of the 8,000 children currently living in orphanages have at least one living parent.  An estimated 40 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18, denying them access to education, and often putting their health at risk.  In the last two years, there have been numerous reports of child trafficking in some parts of the country.

A key focus of the new strategy will be on developing community and family-based support for vulnerable children, and reducing the emphasis on institutional care, which is globally recognized as being less beneficial for children and highly expensive to maintain.  The strategy paper to be released tomorrow calls for investment in programmes such as day centres, family counselling services, alternative family care packages, education, skills development, vocational training and income creation initiatives.

With endemic poverty underlying most of the risks facing children in Afghanistan, the new strategy also points to the need for the capacity of communities and families to be enhanced, to enable them to best support children at risk within the community itself.

The National Strategy for Children at Risk aims to provide a clear framework for all organizations working with vulnerable children and families, emphasising the need for a coordinated and complementary approach to service provision.

The strategy will be official launched on Tuesday 16 May at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, starting at 9.00 A.M. Senior Government representatives and members of the UN, NGO and donor community will attend the launch, which will be followed by the start of a one day workshop to discussion implementation of the strategy amongst key children’s agencies and Government departments.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Eddie Carwardine, UNICEF Media Afghanistan
Tel.+ 93 799 507 400, Mobile: +93 799 607 400
E-mail:  ecarwardine@unicef.org





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