Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A future for Afghanistan?

This week, there is an international summit on Afghanistan which is being held in the German city of Bonn. The conference aims to secure Afghanistan’s future now that foreign military forces are planning to withdraw from the country.

Ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, the people of Afghanistan still live with uncertainty. Even though they are no longer in power, the Taliban are still a force to be reckoned with and could undermine the country’s stability unless the international community continues to support the new regime. As President Karzai said this week, Afghanistan’s “young democracy remains fragile”.

Afghanistan is a land riven with problems. Fighting and violence are everyday occurrences. A trip to the local market takes people into a dangerous world of roadside bombs and suicide attackers. Going to school, or taking on a career makes targets of girls and women whose only crime is to be female and intelligent.

As is always the case in areas of conflict, poverty is rife. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in Afghanistan is just £329 per year, which compares to the UK’s figure of £25,342.

For many families, such poverty affects all aspects of life. Unable to afford adequate housing, whole families live in one room, and many are malnourished. Medical care is denied those who cannot pay for it and simple curable diseases cause suffering, permanent disability and death. Even such things as warm blankets are denied the very poorest, which leaves them exposed to the harsh winter temperatures.

Children cannot attend school, and the lack of education condemns them to repeat the lifestyle that blights their parents.

World In Need works in Kabul, helping to build a future for the people of Afghanistan. Through our child and family sponsorships programmes we enable children to go to school, giving them hope of a brighter future. Our Children’s Day Care Centre provides a warm, safe haven where children can play, or take extra lessons to catch up on school work missed because of the problems the people face. Some children have learned to paint, and the work they produce is good enough that we can sell it, providing a little income to help their families. One girl who attended the Centre has now gone on to study fine art at University.

For the politicians in Bonn, an agreement at the conference guaranteeing peace and stability would mean approbation and kudos.

For those people helped by World In Need, such an agreement would mean very, very much more.

It will mean a future.

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