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Poverty still a huge problem, says rights group

[Afghanistan] Withered wheat is all that remains in the northern village in Afghanistan.
Much of Afghanistan remains short of food - more than six million people are in need (IRIN)

Many Afghans are still suffering from poverty, lack of education and health care, a local rights watchdog said in a study released on Monday in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The report, "Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan" was jointly produced by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

It was based on research carried out between April and December 2005 in 29 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. More than 8,000 people were interviewed during the survey - mainly in rural areas of the country.

"Half of all interviewees do not have access to safe drinking water and more than a quarter use a water source that is shared with animals," Ahmad Nader Nadery, commissioner of the AIHRC, told a press briefing.

"Although health care facilities are available for 75.4 percent of interviewees, more than half do not use the facilities because of difficulties with access and concerns over quality," the report revealed.

Widespread poverty means working children are common. "Almost half of all interviewees have at least one child below 15 years of age in their family who works; in almost 20 percent of families all the children work," the study said.

The report showed a low level of trust in the functioning of government institutions, particularly the court system in solving disputes over access to key resources, such as land, housing and water.

"Sixty-seven percent of Afghans do not consult government institutions because these institutions most often failed to provide assistance," the study of the rights body said.

Nadery said that the human rights situation remained a key concern for the post-conflict country, despite a widespread international presence over the past four years following the ouster of the hard line Taliban regime by the US-led coalition in late 2001.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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