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Afghan Humanitarian Crisis - 2001-12-08


International aid groups say the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is far from over, and they warn that efforts should focus on children, who are often the first to die from starvation and exposure.

The International Organization for Migration says 177 people -- most of them children -- have recently died in the extreme cold of a refugee camp in the northern Afghan region of Kunduz. Officials say they have only been able to deliver aid to the region on six days over the past seven weeks, because of Taleban interference.

The group, Save the Children, says more than one-quarter of Afghan children die before their 15th birthday. It says children in Afghanistan face disease, displacement, hunger and landmines, and have never known what it is like to live in peace. Officials say the group's first priority is to prepare for the harsh Afghan winter.

In southern Afghanistan, the World Food Program says there 230-thousand people in need of aid near Khandahar. It says the Taleban surrender of the city may allow aid distribution there to resume.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says Kabul's health system is in ruins. Officials say the city's hospital has a staff of just 14 doctors, down from 100 before the Taleban took power.

Outside the capital, the organization estimates that 85 percent of Afghan cities have only rudimentary health care, while the rest have none.

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