At least 78 people have died in freezing conditions in Afghanistan over the past nine days, a Taliban official said Thursday, delving deeper a humanitarian crisis affecting millions of people now living under the control of the radical Islamist group.
Shafiullah Rahimi, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Disaster Management, told CNN that in addition to the loss of life, more than 77,000 farm animals have froze to death in recent days.
Temperatures fell to minus 28 degrees Celsius (minus 18 Fahrenheit) late last week, with fears that conditions could get even colder. Temperatures are well below average for this time of year, with the coldest conditions recorded in the north, according to CNN meteorologists.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Afghanistan said in a tweet on Wednesday Livestock losses posed another risk to families of more than 21 million people in dire need of food and agricultural support.
The Taliban takeover in August 2021 plunged Afghanistan into an economic and humanitarian crisis.
Humanitarian partners provide families with heat, money for gas and warm clothing, but aid distribution has been severely hampered by the Taliban’s ban on women workers, UNOCHA in Afghanistan said in a tweet.
At least half a dozen major foreign aid groups have temporarily halted operations in Afghanistan since December, when the Taliban ordered all local and international NGOs to prevent their female employees from coming to work or risked having their NGO licenses revoked .
Some of the UN’s top women officials have met with Taliban leaders in Kabul to discuss banning women development workers after the organization had to halt some of its “time-sensitive” programs in Afghanistan due to a shortage of women development workers.
Women’s rights, freedoms and access to education have been severely eroded under the Taliban, which has recently denied women access to education.
Half of the Afghan population is suffering from acute hunger, and although the conflict has subsided, violence, fear and deprivation remain, according to a UN report in November.