Children safer in Afghan cities than London, NY: NATO

A report in 2009 said Afghanistan was world`s most dangerous place to be born.

Kabul: Afghan cities are like a network of villages where children may well be safer than in London or New York, NATO`s top civilian envoy to Afghanistan has said.

"The children are probably safer here than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities," Mark Sedwill said during an interview to be aired on Monday on Children`s BBC (CBBC).

He made the comment in response to a question from the show`s presenter about reports the programme, Newsround, had received from Afghan children in Kabul who said they felt unsafe on the streets because of the risk of bombs.

"In Kabul and the other big cities, actually, there are very few of those bombs," Sedwill said.

He said most children, even in places like the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, go about their daily lives in safety.

"So it is a little bit like a city of villages," he said.

The comments, released in advance of the show`s airing, are part of an interview that features in a two-part series exploring the lives of children in Afghanistan.

A report from the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF) in November 2009 said Afghanistan was the world`s most dangerous place to be born.

Violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were overthrown by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001, with civilian and military casualties at record levels.

A total of 74 children were killed in the first half of the year by homemade bombs or in suicide attacks, an increase of 155 percent for the same period in 2009.

While insurgents normally target foreign and Afghan forces, civilians are often caught up in the attacks as bystanders.

Last month, at least nine people, including eight children, were killed when a school bus carrying female students was hit by a roadside bomb in Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan.

Girls also have had acid thrown in their faces while walking to school by hardline Islamists who object to female education, which was banned under Taliban rule.

Bureau Report