Kabul Not That Dangerous for Kids, NATO Official Says

By Staff | November 22, 2010 | 5:46 AM EST

Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) - With few bombings and low levels of crime against children in Kabul, youngsters living in the Afghan capital probably are safer than in other big cities like London or New York, NATO's top civilian representative in Afghanistan said on a television program airing Monday.

Mark Sedwill made the comment to the BBC's CBBC Newsround, a daily current events show aimed at children. The program interviewed Sedwill for a series focusing on young people in war zones.

Sedwill said violence has been on the decline in the Afghan capital and most children go about their daily lives in safety. Sedwill was talking generally about levels of crime and was trying to put terrorist violence into context by noting that there are few incidents of militant violence in Kabul as compared with other more volatile sections of the nation.

The program also quotes several young people living in Kabul, who said they felt unsafe on the streets because of the risk of bombings.

Manija, an 11-year-old girl who goes by only one name, said: "When there are explosions I get sad because people are dying. But the next day, when they are living a normal life and celebrating, I get happy."

But Sedwill noted that in recent months there have been few bombings in the city.

"The children are probably safer here than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities," Sedwill said. "Most children can go about their lives in safety. It's a very family oriented society. So it is a little bit like a city of villages."

The number of Afghan civilians killed or injured in the war across Afghanistan soared 31 percent in the first six months of the year, according to a report by the United Nations. The report said Taliban bombings and assassinations were largely responsible.

The U.N. said the number of deaths and injuries caused by NATO and Afghan government forces dropped 30 percent compared with the first six months of last year, largely a result of curbs on the use of air power and heavy weapons.

Women and children made up a rising proportion of those killed and injured in the first half of this year. From January to June, women casualties increased by 6 percent and child casualties rose by 55 percent from 2009, according to the report.