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Background

After 23 years of war, Afghanistan is experiencing post-conflict difficulties: infrastructure is inadequate, poverty is widespread and state social protection is inexistent. Critical aspects of the social welfare sector include:
 

  • Endemic family poverty resulting in nutrition deficiencies, high rate of infant, child and maternal mortality.

  • High rate of youth population: More than a half of the country’s population is less than 19 years old.

  • Low level of education: of about 10 million school-age children, 4.2 million children attended school in 2004.

  • High levels of family stress, erosion of  family support and safety nets due to harsh economic situation: a study carried out by UNICEF in 2004 shows that placement of children in orphanages has dramatically increased due to the erosion of community/family networks and is used as a coping mechanism. Out of the 8,000 children living in children’s institutions throughout the country, 1/3 do not need long-term care by residential institutions and could be returned to their family or extended family with minimal support.

  • Increasing number of street and working children particularly in the capital and large provincial cities. Studies suggest that there has been an increase in the numbers in Kabul, from approx 40,000, to 60,000 in 10 years, mainly due to the returning refugee population from neighbouring countries and the unaffordable cost of living in the capital. 

  • Widespread child abuse: More than half the number of girls under 16 are forced into early marriages, physically abusive acts are taking place every day and the sexual abuse of children is very frequent.

  • Emergence of low-level street violence: with the alarming development of drug production and trade, children are more and more likely to be used as drug-dealers and exposed to drug-addiction.

Increasing child kidnapping and abduction: In February 2004, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) reported that human trafficking particularly child kidnapping and abduction within, outside and through the country were identified as one of the most serious violations in recent months in Afghanistan.  In the International Organisation for Migrations’ report “Trafficking in Persons, An Analysis of Afghanistanâ€