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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (February 6, 2017) — New UN figures reveal 2016 to be the most deadly year on record for children in Afghanistan; Save the Children is alarmed by these findings, and calls for children to be protected during times of fighting.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report found that 923 children were killed during conflict last year, while more than 2,500 children were injured. Together this represents a massive 24 percent increase in total child casualties and the highest number since the agency began recording casualties in 2009.
"These figures are extremely concerning, and represent a very real failure to protect the most vulnerable in Afghan society at a time when they need it most. Almost 1,000 children were victims of conflict in Afghanistan last year – that’s nearly three per day," Save the Children Country Director in Afghanistan Ana Locsin said.
"Children are innocent and need to be protected at all costs. They must be seen as off limits no matter what. We’re calling on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to do everything in their power to protect children at all times, and especially during times of fighting."
Unsurprisingly, the figures come amid a year in which there was a surge of violence across Afghanistan, including major outbreaks of fighting in Kunduz and Helmand.
Adding to the crisis in Afghanistan where 9.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 600,000 Afghans returned from Pakistan last year following a tightening in regulations by Pakistani authorities.
"The humanitarian situation across much of Afghanistan has deteriorated significantly in the past 12 months, and as fighting typically escalates at the end of winter, it could get even worse in the coming months," Ms. Locsin said. "It’s a critical time in Afghanistan, when far more international help is most definitely needed."
Save the Children has been working in Afghanistan since 1976, running a broad range of development and humanitarian programs including in health, education and child protection.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.