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Afghanistan: Children

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of UK aid to Afghanistan is intended to assist children in 2008-09; what steps his Department is taking to deal with unexploded ordnance in Afghanistan, with particular reference to the protection of children; and if he will make a statement. (246541)

The Department for International Development (DFID) will spend £60 million through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. This provides finance, among other things, for teachers’ salaries directly benefiting the 6 million children now in school and health services and support to the health sector (specifically training) which reduces infant mortality.

DFID currently funds and has made a further five year commitment of up to £10 million to the HALO Trust’s demining programmes in Afghanistan. The purpose of these programmes is to return high-priority mined land and suspected hazardous areas to productive use, and to providing children with safe areas to work and play.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to assist the Afghan government to uphold its commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; and if he will make a statement. (246545)

The Department for International Development (DFID) works in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) to ensure the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is upheld. This policy is incorporated into DFID’s state-building, growth and livelihoods programmes.

DFID’s contribution to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) of £60 million (2008-09) is supporting Afghan children realise their right to education. The ARTF contributes to the salaries of over 100,000 teachers and six million students are now enrolled in school. In 2001 this figure stood at one million, very few of whom were girls, who were denied education under the Taliban.

In 2008 DFID contributed £11 million to the World Food programme to support the provision of wheat to 425,000 households over the winter period, ensuring fewer Afghan children are in danger of sliding further into poverty and malnutrition.

The UK, in partnership with the Afghan Government and international community, is committed to providing a safe and secure environment in which children can freely access schools, clinics and public spaces.