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2016 was the Deadliest Year for Journalists in Afghanistan, says Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee (AJSC)

016 has been the deadliest year for journalists in Afghanistan, now the second most unsafe country for journalists with a nearly 13 reporters brutally assassinated

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Afghan Journalist, Pixabay

Kabul, Jan 19, 2017: According to a report released Thursday, Afghanistan suffered its deadliest year on record for journalists in 2016. The report stated that the country has grabbed the spot of the second most dangerous nation for reporters in the world after Syria.

Not less than 13 journalists were killed last year, the Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee (AJSC) said, adding that the Taliban was responsible for at least ten of the deaths.

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101 cases of violence against the media in 2016, a 38 percent increase on 2015, had been found by the committee; underscoring the threat against a small band of media workers who put their lives on the line to report events in their war-torn country and help the events reach the masses.

“This increase in violence against journalists has turned Afghanistan into the second most dangerous country for journalists in the world, after Syria,” chairman of the committee, Najib Sharifi,  told reporters on Thursday.

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The report marked that a shift in the Taliban’s policy and actions towards the media was the “main driver of the increase in the level of threats and deadly violence against journalists”.

Seven employees of popular TV channel Tolo, often critical of the militants, were slaughtered in a Taliban suicide bombing episode in Kabul in what the insurgent group said was a revenge for “spreading propaganda” against them in January last year.

Since the Taliban were dethroned from power in 2001, it was the first major attack on an Afghan media organisation and spotlighted the dangers media workers face in Afghanistan as the safety issue worsens amid a growing tide of militant attacks and increasing violence.

In June, the Taliban murdered American journalist David Gilkey and his Afghan translator in a rocket attack in southern Helmand province.

But the report also pointed out the fact that the majority of violent incidents against journalists were executed by government forces, with the European Union’s raging criticism regarding the “alarming” trend.

“The government should take utmost measures to bring perpetrators of threats, attacks and killing of journalists to justice,” the EU delegation to Afghanistan said in a statement.

According to the figures presented by AJSC, 28 journalists and media workers have been killed in the past five years in Afghanistan.

The raising atrocities against media must be handled carefully and the Government must come up with steps to prevent more such incidents from happening.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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About 2M Children in Afghanistan Suffer Acute Malnutrition: UNICEF

But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said

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FILE - A boy walks inside what is left of a home in Kandahar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 3, 2019. The U.N. Children's Fund is appealing for money to treat Afghanistan's malnourished children. VOA

About two million children in Afghanistan are acutely malnourished. Of those, 600,000 face severe acute malnutrition, the most dangerous form of undernutrition in children, said Christophe Boulierac, a spokesman for the U.N. Children’s Fund.

“Any child suffering from severe acute malnutrition is a crisis and needs to be treated to survive,” he said. “We cannot tell you how many children will die, but we can tell you that a child with severe acute malnutrition is 11 times more likely to die than their healthy peers.”

Afghanistan, alongside Yemen and South Sudan, is among the countries with the highest numbers of children under age five suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Severe drought in 2018 has worsened the situation.

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But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said. Pixabay

Recent nutrition surveys across Afghanistan find 22 out of 34 provinces are above the emergency threshold of acute malnutrition. Last year, UNICEF provided life-saving assistance to nearly half of the country’s most nutritionally deprived children. It is aiming to reach 60 percent, or 375,000, of those children this year. But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said.

“We are the sole provider of this treatment against severe acutely malnourished children,” he told VOA. “We need urgent funding in three weeks, otherwise, we will not send the necessary ready-to-use therapeutic food treatment to the 1,300 health facilities that are waiting for that.”

ALSO READ: Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Face Serious Water Shortage

This year, UNICEF has provided treatment to more than 73,000 severely malnourished children. Boulierac said plans are in place to immediately scale up the operation to reach more children as soon as more money is available.

He also warned that the nutritional status of Afghanistan’s children is likely to worsen without more secure funding in the pipeline. (VOA)