A widow who lost her husband to the war has sold her six-year-old daughter “to avoid starvation”.

A CNN broadcaster visited a refugee camp outside Herat, in Afghanistan and spoke with Mamareen who has lost her home and now lives under plastic sheeting.

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She is among hundreds of thousands of people displaced by drought in western Afghanistan.

Mamareen told CNN that she had fled her village with her three children to the refugee camp, hoping for assistance, “but I got nothing”.

Worried about her family starving to death, she “gave my daughter to a man for about $3,000, but have only got $70 so far.”

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Stressing that she had taken this action because, without a breadwinner, the family has no money, and thus no food, Mamareen said that while her daughter, Akila, is unaware of the transaction, she “had no other choice… she will have to go.

“Who would sell a piece of her heart unless they really have to?”

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Young Akila has been sold to Najmuddin, who has promised the girl to his son, Sher Agha, aged ten.

CNN visited her buyer in another, richer tent in the refugee camp, who said the purchase was an act of charity.

He said: “Her family didn’t have anything to eat. They were hungry.”

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Najmuddin, claiming he was “poor”, said he intended paying off the remainder of the amount promised to the girl’s mum slowly, over the next two-to-three years.

When the cameraman pointed out that Akila is just a child, Najmuddin replied that it didn’t matter as in Afghanistan, “these things happen here. Even an old man marries a young girl. It happens.”