1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Afghanistan

Rights watchdog releases gloomy report

Afghan children face too many mishaps and are widely forced into early marriage

Millions of people in Afghanistan are living in poverty, are short of food, lack access to basic services, and are vulnerable to violence despite seven years of international help, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says in a new report.

The AIHRC’s Third National Socio-Economic Report highlights the challenges facing most ordinary Afghans.

"Most of the vulnerable and isolated areas are without food, and this winter this will cause them major problems," said the report, adding that aid agencies and the government must work to together to prevent a humanitarian crisis this winter.

"Thirty-seven percent of vulnerable populations [vulnerable people living on less than US$2 per day make up 40 percent of the total population according to some estimates] make less than 50 Afghanis [less than US$1] per day," said the report released in English, Dari and Pashto on 23 December in Kabul.

Most rural Afghans do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, while many returnees from neighbouring countries and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in dire conditions.

The government, its partners and aid organisations have failed to meet the needs of millions of returnees from Iran and Pakistan, some of whom have become IDPs and live in makeshift settlements, the report said.

It said 30 percent of those living in rural areas do not have access to public or private health services.

Plight of children

More than half of the country's estimated 26.6 million population are under 17, according to aid agencies, but most have a difficult life.

"Child labour is prevalent in Afghanistan," with most children doing onerous jobs which expose them to serious physical and mental harm, it said.

Children, especially girls, also suffer widespread domestic violence and are often forced into early marriage. "Fifty-five percent of underage marriages were [designed] to solve economic problems," the report said.

Many children, particularly females, are denied the right to education. As a result of attacks on schools, 108 people were killed and 154 injured in 2007. "Only 11 percent of boys and five percent of girls in primary schools carry on to grade 12," according to the report.

The AIHRC called on the government and US-led international forces to boost security, protect health facilities, and also ensure greater effectiveness in the way in which international aid is coordinated and delivered.


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

Share this article
Join the discussion

It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.

This demonstrates the important impact that our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and shine a light on similar abuses. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.