100,000 Afghan Children Might Die This Winter, UNICEF Aide Warns

Situation Unstable in War-torn Nation, Representative Says

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TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, NOV. 14, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Every year, 300,000 children die in the harsh conditions of Afghanistan, UNICEF says, and this winter, with the war, an additional 100,000 might die.

Rudy Rodriguez, UNICEF´s representative in Uzbekistan, painted a bleak picture of the humanitarian situation in the country, where U.S.-led forces are targeting the ruling Taliban.

Rodriquez was to take the first load of immediate aid from the Uzbekistani city of Termez to the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sahrif, but the departure was postponed at the last minute by Uzbekistani authorities.

«In fact, the situation there is still very unstable,» Rodriguez said. «We have received news of looting and massacres. And the fact that the Taliban might unleash a counteroffensive has not been excluded.»

The UNICEF representative estimates that there are more than 1 million displaced people in Afghanistan, while 5 million people live in circumstances of acute lack of food, medicine and other necessities.

«During the last month of war and bombings, the situation has worsened,» Rodriguez said. «Internationally isolated, Afghanistan has fallen into the most absolute poverty: There is no gas, or transportation, and prices have skyrocketed.»

«Malaria, hypothermia, malnutrition are the most widespread sicknesses,» Rodriguez added.

According to the World Health Organization, Afghanistan is the country with the highest rate of infant mortality in the world: 16.3%. Life expectancy is 45 years, among the lowest in the world.

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