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Poverty deadlier than war in Afghanistan: UN

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 14:51

United Nations: Afghanistan is one of the
poorest countries in the world and poverty kills more Afghans
than war, according to a new report issued by the human rights
division of the UN.

"Poverty actually kills more Afghans than those who die
as a direct result of the armed conflict," Norah Niland,
Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in
Afghanistan said.

"Poverty deprives two-thirds of the Afghan population
from living a decent and dignified life. This includes the
inability to enjoy their most basic and fundamental rights,
such as getting an education or having access to health
services," he added.

The top UN human rights official in the country stressed
that the root cause of poverty in Afghanistan was human rights
violation that took the shape of patronage, corruption,
impunity and opting for short-term solutions over long-term
developmental goals.

"Poverty is neither accidental, nor inevitable; it is
both a cause and a consequence of a massive human rights
deficit," the report said. "The deficit includes widespread
impunity and inadequate investment in, and attention to, human

"A human rights angle offers a complementary approach to
existing poverty reduction strategies," Niland noted, urging
dismantling of abusive power structures to realise sustainable
poverty reduction.

The study also pointed out that Afghanistan had the
second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, which
means that 25,000 women die each year because of complications
associated with pregnancy.

Further, only 23 per cent of Afghans have access to safe
drinking water and only 24 per cent of the population above
the age of 15 can read and write with much lower literacy
rates among women and nomadic populations.

The report calls for the poor being placed at the centre
of decision-making process that affect their life. It also
recommends escalating up poverty reduction efforts and warns
against allocating resources to military agenda at the cost of
developmental objectives.

"When Afghans have been consulted they have repeatedly
identified poverty and unemployment as important factors in
the spread of insecurity," Niland said.


First Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 14:51
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