Cold wave in Afghanistan: at least 70 dead

Cold wave in Afghanistan: at least 70 dead

At least 70 people have died in a week due to the cold snap in Afghanistan, a country ravaged by a serious humanitarian crisis, authorities said on Wednesday.

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Temperatures have dropped in Kabul and several other provinces in this poor country since January 10. The central region of Ghor recorded the lowest temperatures: -33°C over the weekend of January 14-15.

“This winter is by far the coldest in recent years,” Mohammad Nasim Muradi, chief of Afghanistan’s weather service, told AFP. “We expect the cold spell to last a week or more,” he warned.

At least 70 people have died since the cold spell began, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management. About 70,000 cattle, a vital commodity for the Afghans, died.

In the countryside, homeless families have been seen around campfires, while in the snowy capital, the lucky ones gather around traditional charcoal stoves.

Heavy snowfall caused roadblocks in several central and northern provinces, according to footage released on social media.

The cold spell has added to the many difficulties facing the country, which is grappling with one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. More than half of the 38 million people are acutely food insecure and three million children are at risk of malnutrition.

Afghanistan’s economy, already battered by decades of war, is in crisis after billions of dollars in international aid were cut after the Taliban took power in August 2021.

The distribution of humanitarian aid by NGOs has also been affected since the Taliban government banned Afghan women from working in associations on December 24. The main NGOs have suspended their activities to protest this decision, which applies to all sectors except healthcare.

Some have resumed work in the sector with female staff for a few days in certain provinces after receiving guarantees from the authorities that their employees can work safely and freely.