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UNICEF urges more investment in meeting the basic needs of Afghanistan’s children

Tackling poverty and under-development will help address root causes of migration

BRUSSELS, 7 October 2016 - UNICEF has welcomed the commitment made by donors attending this week’s Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, which promised the country more than US$ 15 billion in assistance over the coming four years.

“Together with the rest of the international community, UNICEF will play a full part in building a safer, more stable Afghanistan for its people and especially its children,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.

“Investing in children’s education and other services will help address poverty and other issues that are driving so many families – including children -- to leave the country.”

More than a decade of armed conflict prompted 2.7 million Afghans to leave their country by the end of 2015, half of them children*. Last year alone, 45,000 unaccompanied children from Afghanistan sought asylum in the European Union.

“We welcome the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan and the European Union to respect the rights of migrant and refugee children under international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Ms Gough.

According to UNICEF, any decision concerning a child should only be taken after trained personnel have assessed what is in his or her best interest, identifying any protection risks or harm they face if they are returned. For this, timely and child-specific country-of-origin information is needed.

During the return process, children should not be detained and adequate reception facilities must be in place. Returning children to institutional care is not a long-term solution.

UNICEF is working closely with the Afghan government on initiatives that help meet the basic needs of children. A comprehensive child law is ready for adoption, while a Citizen’s Charter, guaranteeing minimum health, nutrition, water and other basic services for children and their families will be implemented. 

A new education strategy prioritizes the needs of out-of-school girls, while a birth registration system and other child protection services are other priorities that will help build a more resilient Afghanistan.



UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.

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For more information, please contact

Simon Ingram, UNICEF Brussels, singram@unicef.org, + 32 491 90 5118







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