By Oscar Grenfell:
Reports document deepening social catastrophe in Afghanistan
19 December 2007
More than six years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, two recently released reports have again demonstrated the falsehood of the Bush administration’s claims to be helping the Afghan people. The social indices on literacy, life expectancy and food availability contained in the reports provide an insight into the terrible social crisis confronting millions of Afghans.
The 2007 Afghanistan Human Development Report produced by the United Nations and based on statistics gathered in 2005 shows that Afghanistan has actually fallen in world rankings. In 2004, it was placed 173rd out of 178 countries on the UN global human development index; in 2007 it has fallen another place to 174th ahead of only four poverty-stricken African countries—Burkina Faso, Mali, Sierra Leone and Niger.
According to the report, average life expectancy fell from 44.5 years in 2003 to 43.1 years in 2005, while adult literacy fell from 28.7 percent in 2003 to 23.5 percent in 2005. When these figures are cross-referenced with pre-invasion 2001 statistics, a picture of social retrogression becomes clear. Under the Taliban regime, average life expectancy was actually slightly higher at 45.5 years and the literacy rate for adults was 31 percent.
The report found that many Afghans lack the most basic dietary requirements, stating: “6.6 million Afghans do not meet their minimum food requirements, with 24 percent of households characterised by poor food consumption. Based on a minimum caloric intake of 2,067 kilocalories per day adjusted by sex and age, 30 percent of the population eats, on average, below their daily requirements. Households in urban areas are slightly more food-insecure than both rural and Kuchi [nomad] populations. When diversity of diet is included in the analysis, 61 percent of households are likely to be below the threshold for food insecurity.”
The shortage of food has resulted in widespread malnutrition and undernourishment, with almost 40 percent of children below the age of three underweight, 54 percent of children under the age of five experiencing stunted growth and 7 percent dying of hunger. Considering that only 31 percent of households nationwide have access to safe drinking water, it is clear that a major humanitarian catastrophe is taking place.
The US and her fundamentalist stooges are the main human rights violators in Afghanistan, by RAWA: here.