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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Unicef launches Afghan aid appeal
Jemima Khan and Hermione Youngs with children Danielle and Alexander
The focus is on the plight of children this winter
The British public is being urged to join a 25m appeal to help prevent the death of up to 100,000 children in Afghanistan this winter.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) launched its Afghanistan Crisis Leaf Appeal with the distribution of 5,000 printed autumn leaves urging London commuters to make a donation.

The charity and its partners are still managing to get aid through to the Taleban-controlled country which is enduring daily bombardments by the United States.

Afghan children are dying of measles, exposure, severe malnutrition or diarrhoea

Jemima Khan
But Unicef says the approaching winter, with its harsh, freezing conditions, makes the appeal more urgent.

Unicef UK's Special Representative for Children in Conflict, Jemima Khan, joined the launch in London on Tuesday.

"We want people to take notice of the fact that as many as 100,000 more Afghan children under five will die this winter if aid does not reach them in time," she said.

"This is on top of the 300,000 who already die every year of entirely preventable causes.

"Afghan children are dying of measles, exposure, severe malnutrition or diarrhoea - a disease that could be cured with a seven pence sachet of oral rehydration salts.

"Unicef can do a great deal to prevent these deaths, but we need the public's help to do it."

Donkey convoy

Mrs Khan joined Unicef worker Hermione Youngs at the event.

The British grandmother has recently returned to the UK after leading a 10km-long donkey convoy carrying 110 tons of emergency supplies into Afghanistan.

Crisis facts
winter temperatures drop to -36C
over half of Afghan children are malnourished
1 in 4 children will die before their fifth birthday
every 30 minutes an Afghan mother dies giving birth

Leaves printed with the words "Winter's coming - Help the Afghan children now" were distributed to commuters encouraging them to log on to the Unicef website to make a donation.

Unicef convoys entering Afghanistan are distributing warm winter clothing and blankets to tens of thousands of children as well as providing safe drinking water in the camps, food supplements to malnourished children, and safe birthing environments for young mothers.

David Bull, executive director of Unicef UK told the BBC that nearly 25m was needed to carry out the basic emergency work but with less than a month until winter falls, the organisation has received only half that amount so far.

He said: "Our job is to help children where ever we find them but we need the money to buy the supplies and get it to them".

See also:

18 Oct 01 | South Asia
Taleban return 'stolen' aid
11 Oct 01 | South Asia
Taleban 'demand tax' on aid convoy
09 Oct 01 | South Asia
Landmine threat to aid mission
07 Oct 01 | South Asia
Afghan aid: The supply problems
08 Mar 99 | South Asia
Donkeys cross Afghan frontline
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