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Oxfam: Pregnant Afghan Woman Dies Every 30 Minutes

by Alex Crawford

Oxfam has attacked international efforts to help the poor in Afghanistan and revealed a woman dies there every 30 minutes from childbirth complications.

On the eve of the country's elections the charity described aid efforts as "ineffective, uncoordinated and wasteful".

A third of Afghanistan is still at risk of hunger despite the billions of pounds donated to the country, it warned.

Oxfam said America was spending about a £60m a day on its military budget in the country - but the aid budget from all the other international donors combined is less than £4.25m a day.

That, the agency said, is woefully inadequate.

Sky News travelled to one of the poorest areas of Afghanistan and discovered a village living in virtually medieval conditions.

Tut Bloc is in Badakshan Province in the north east of the country tucked away in the Pamir mountains and inaccessible by road.

We drove as far as we could by four-wheel drive along pot-holed roads before taking donkeys on the remaining four-hour trek up the mountain to the village.

There we found families who said they had nothing to eat but naan - the Afghan flat bread.

There were whole families without a male. Most of the able men will leave in the next two weeks once the wheat harvest is over, to try to find work elsewhere.

This year they have had a little rain so they do have a wheat crop to harvest. It means they will have naan to eat for a few months but there's precious little else.

The village is cut off from water, has no electricity and no outside help.

Abdul Wajid is struggling to cope with two young children. Their mother died giving birth to a third child, who also died.

He remarried two months later and his second wife is now pregnant and knows she could face the same fate.

The family is frantically worried about the impending birth. The provincial hospital is at least two days travel away.

His young wife Hanifa tells me: "I don't know what will happen. Death seems to be the only outcome for women here. When you get pregnant there are no facilities."

Poverty levels in Afghanistan remain among the worst in the world with 40% of Afghans living below the poverty line.

One woman dies every 30 minutes due to pregnancy or childbirth. They are shocking statistics.

Grace Ommer, Oxfam GB's country director for Afghanistan, said: "The international community has promised a lot to the Afghan people but much aid and reconstruction have failed to live up to those promises.

"Donors have double pledged funds and have been slow to disburse aid money, a situation compounded by inefficiency, lack of accountability and corruption.

"Aid that does reach Afghanistan is often doesn't reach the people it's meant to help, or it is spent on projects which fulfil donors' priorities, rather than Afghan needs."

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