Children safer in Kabul than London: NATO envoy

Monday, November 22, 2010

LONDON - A British diplomat has sparked fury after claiming that Kabul is a safer place for children than Britain’s major cities.

Afghanistan has one of the world’s highest child mortality rates and has seen over three decades of war and civil strife.

Mark Sedwill, a former British ambassador to Afghanistan and now the NATO senior civilian representative in Kabul, said children were probably safer there than in London, Glasgow or New York, the Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

His comments in a TV interview with CBBC Newsround were rejected by aid agencies working in Afghanistan.

A UN report last year concluded that Afghanistan was the most dangerous place in the world.

A total of 1,795 children were killed or wounded during the conflict from September 2008 to August 2010, and 74 died in roadside bombs or suicide attacks in the first six months of this year.

Responding to a question on Afghan children being worried about bomb attacks, Sedwill, on holiday in London where his four-year-old daughter lives, said: “In Kabul and the other big cities (in Afghanistan) actually there are very few of those bombs.

“The children are probably safer than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities. Most children can go about their lives in safety.

“It’s a very family orientated society. So it is a little bit like a city of villages.”

Ashley Jackson of Oxfam said: “This is the worst country in the world to be born. A fifth of children don’t get to the age of five.”

Justin Forsyth, the chief executive of Save the Children, said: “It’s not just about the bombs. A staggering 850 children die in Afghanistan every day, many from easily preventable diseases such as diarrhoea or pneumonia, or because they are malnourished.”

Filed under: Terrorism

will not be displayed