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Germany

Germany Provides Additional Afghan Aid

The Taliban and months of bombing have left the people of Afghanistan in dire need of humanitarian aid. Hardest hit are the women and children. But Germany plans on improving that.

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Germany has promised economic aid for Afghanistan's women and children.

Germany has announced this week that it will provide $819,000 in aid for health care projects targeted at women and girls. That's in addition to the $45 million already promised for humanitarian projects.

The money, from the Federal ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, will be used for establishing clinics, consultation and information centers, family-planning and health-care measures, mother-child programs, as well as paying for local doctors, midwives and nurses.

Women and girls suffered physically under the oppressive regime of the Taliban. Because the strict religious doctrines of the Afghan rulers prohibited men from looking at or touching women, male doctors could not treat female patients. And there were no female doctors, because women were not allowed to hold a job.

Many women suffered serious illness without treatment. Death during childbirth and infant mortality were not uncommon. It was also not unheard of for mothers to try and flee with their children to bordering states, like Pakistan and Iran, were they could hope for better health care.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), there are an estimated 66,000 pregnant women among the 1.5 million refugees trying to leave Afghanistan. Many of these women are classified as having high-risk pregnancies. The UNPF and its family-planning offices as well as the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees are now faced with the giant task of caring for these women and children.

At the opening of the Afghan Conference in Petersberg last week, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer stressed the importance of guaranteeing equal rights for women and girls, and the active integration of them in the rebuilding of Afghan society. He called upon the international community to help ensure that this would happen.

Later, in Berlin during meetings of the 15-member Afghan Support Group, Germany stressed the need for helping women and children by designating a large sum of humanitarian aid to improving health care.

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