U.N. Releases Report On Poverty In Afghanistan

A new U.N. report (.pdf) finds that “the majority of Afghans live in dire poverty, despite an estimated $35 billion in aid being poured into the country between 2002 to 2009,” the Associated Press reports (3/30).

According to Agence France-Presse/Edmonton Journal, the report released Tuesday by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) states that the “government is ‘often unable to deliver basic services such as security, food or shelter’ and that rampant corruption added a further challenge to overcoming poverty in the country.” The news service adds that “36 percent of the population are living in ‘absolute poverty’ while another 37 percent live barely above the poverty line” (3/31).

“Poverty actually kills more Afghans than those who die as a direct result of the armed conflict,” Norah Niland, of the OHCHR in Afghanistan, said during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, U.N. News Centre reports. “Poverty is neither accidental, nor inevitable; it is both a cause and a consequence of a massive human rights deficit,” she said (3/30).

The report “also criticized the international community for placing too much emphasis on security and too little on long-term development,” the AP reports. “More than eight years after a U.S.-led military coalition ousted the Taliban, Afghanistan has the world’s second highest maternal mortality rate and the third worst rate of child mortality, according to the report.” Additionally, the report revealed, “Only 23 percent of the population have access to safe drinking water, and only 24 percent of the population above the age of 15 can read and write, with much lower literacy rates among women and nomadic population,” according to the AP (3/30).