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Anti-Polio Drive By Unicef in Afghanistan

Anti-Polio Drive By Unicef Highlights Afghanistan's Day Of Unity For Children

Afghanistan's successful polio eradication campaign, with the help of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as a host of other vital efforts to improve the lives of young people were among the highlights of the country's observance of a national day of unity for youngsters today.

The designation by President Hamid Karzai of a "National Day of Unity for Children" comes as the drive towards a polio-free Afghanistan enters the last mile with the start today of the second National Immunization Days (NID) campaign for 2003, which aims to vaccinate 6 million Afghan children against the crippling disease.

School children in Afghanistan will also be celebrating when a host of new and renovated schools open - part of UNICEF's ongoing efforts with the Ministry of Education to bring youngsters back into the education process. A nationwide programme and enthusiastic participation by the Afghan children has generated real results in a country where not long ago, education for girls was virtually banned.

The agency's "Back to School" campaign has seen attendance double over the last two years - this academic year, 4.2 million primary school children are expected to return to the classroom, many of them girls.

"Promoting unity through child rights is one long-term solution to problems of ethnic conflict and political instability," UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said. "But to be effective those rights must kept at the top of the agenda today and every day. That means taking action and delivering the services these children need."

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