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Kabul 'safer' for kids than London or New York, says NATO official

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"Half the insurgent violence takes place in 10 of the 365 districts and, in those places, children are too often the victims of IEDs and other dangers.

“But in cities like Kabul where security has improved, the total levels of violence, including criminal violence, are comparable to those which many western children would experience.”

Sedwill went on to say that challenges of poverty put “many more children at risk” than the war.

Kabul kids still at risk from bombs

Children have been caught in major explosions inside Kabul, however, including a 2007 bus bombing, the 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy, and the 2009 bombing of NATO’s military mission (ISAF) headquarters. In the first half of 2010, 176 children were killed in conflict nationwide, a 55 percent jump from the same period last year.

While security has improved in Kabul Province this past year, it still saw 110 antigovernment attacks from January through September, according to the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office.

No reliable data on crimes affecting children exists in Afghanistan. But there are some vulnerability indicators.

Kabul has some 60,000 to 70,000 street and working children, according to Mohammad Yousef, director of the NGO Aschiana. “Early in the morning they go to the street, and at night they go back to family – that is not safe and secure,” says Mr. Yousef.

Some of these children suffer beatings at the hand of shopkeepers or police, adds Yousef; other times they are recruited as drug mules, fighters, or sex workers. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) data from 2005 found that nearly a quarter of all 13- to 14-year-old boys in Kabul are street children.

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