Kabul "probably safer" for children than London

Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:48am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Children may be safer growing up in Kabul than in London, Glasgow or New York, a NATO official said on Monday, but his comments were labeled "wrong and misleading" by a leading children's charity.

"Most children can go about their lives in safety," said Mark Sedwill of life in the Afghan capital, adding that "it's a very family-orientated society."

The senior civilian representative made the remarks in Growing Up In A War Zone: A Newsround Special for British children's channel CBBC.

"In Kabul and the other big cities actually there are very few of these bombs. The children are probably safer here than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities," Sedwill said.

But several Afghan youths interviewed for the program felt otherwise: "Because of explosions happening in the city, it is frightening when we come to school. We are afraid of explosions in the school," said 16-year-old student Sohrad.

The chief executive of kids' charity Save the Children rejected Sedwill's view, saying it was wrong to compare the lives of children in Kabul with those of children living in Western cities.

"We should be listening to what children in Afghanistan are saying," he said. "Afghanistan is the worst place on earth to be born a child -- one in four children living there will die before they reach the age of five."

Sedwill's words were also dismissed by a spokesman for Glasgow City Council, who said Sedwill had "got it wrong here."

(Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Steve Addison)