“I not only totally disagree with Mr. Sedwill’s assessment of child safety in Kabul, I’m amazed to see how oblivious and ignorant he is about this situation in Afghanistan,” says Ajmal Samadi, director of the Afghanistan Rights Monitor in Kabul.
“It means NATO [officials] have no idea what Afghanistan and Kabul is beyond their high compound walls. If he’s talking about NATO headquarters, yes, that’s safe,” he adds.
Sedwill clarified his position in response to the outcry. "I was trying to explain to an audience of British children how uneven violence is across Afghanistan," he wrote in an e-mail statement.
"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.
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.