Children in Afghanistan suffer one of the highest levels of chronic malnutrition in the world, a report said Monday, despite billions of dollars in aid that have poured into the war-torn country.
More than half of Afghan children under the age of five are chronically malnourished, according to the joint report by the World Bank and the government.
“Because of the ongoing conflict, foreign assistance has disproportionally gone to the provinces where concentration of troops and fighting has been heaviest,” said acting World Bank country director Josephine Bassinette.
“But the analysis in this report shows that poverty and food insecurity rates are actually higher in the more peaceful provinces,” she said, pressing for better targeting of aid to ensure it reaches the poorest people.
“It is shocking to learn that children are amongst the most vulnerable segment of the Afghan population, and their lives that could be saved are at risk,” said Economy Minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal.
The government was committed to efforts to provide a safety net for the poor, “with financial and technical support from the international community”, he said.
Western aid money has flooded Afghanistan in the 10 years since a US-led invasion toppled the hardline Islamist Taliban regime in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
But allegations of corruption within the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai are widespread.
And the country remains at war, with civilians among the hardest hit as the Taliban wage an increasingly bloody insurgency against the government.
A record number were killed in the fighting last year — the fifth straight year the death toll has risen, according to a UN report.
A total of 3,021 civilians died — mostly at the hands of insurgents — up eight percent from 2,790 in 2010.