Humanitarian Crisis: Winter kills in Afghanistan

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Humanitarian Crisis: Winter kills in Afghanistan

At least 78 people have died in poor weather conditions in Afghanistan in just over a week, while the war-ravaged country continues to grapple with a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis, local officials said. With temperatures as low as -34 degrees Celsius, people in the country are struggling to make ends meet.

“The weather is getting colder in the next few days, so it is necessary to consider humanitarian aid for the people affected,” Abdullah Ahmadi, the head of the emergency response center at the Taliban-led Ministry of Disaster Management, was quoted as saying by Reuters. The cold spell, which officials described as the harshest winter in 15 years, has caused more than 75,000 livestock deaths, according to Shafiullah Rahimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Natural Disaster Management.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said Thursday that bitterly cold weather in the South Asian country has reportedly killed thousands of livestock in the eastern, western and northern regions. “Lost livelihoods and assets are putting Afghan families at risk at a time when 21.2 million people are in dire need of more food and agricultural support,” it said. The Ministry of Disaster Management has also hinted at incoming humanitarian aid to those affected by the disaster.

Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund, the minister for natural disaster management in the Taliban’s de facto government, called for more foreign aid during an emergency meeting, adding that the death toll is not accurate because the government has little access to remote areas. “We are deeply saddened that our compatriots in some provinces have lost their lives due to the extreme cold,” the Taliban government said in a statement, directing relevant agencies and government officials to help affected families.

The Taliban made a stunning comeback on August 15, 2021, toppling the Western-backed government of Ashraf Ghani and forcing the US and its allies to leave the South Asian country after years of futile military adventures. More than a year after the US pulled out of Afghanistan, the de facto Taliban government in Kabul continues to struggle with the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country amid crippling US sanctions and cash constraints.

Millions of Afghans are now out of work, the banking system is all but dysfunctional, medical facilities lie in ruins and the worst humanitarian catastrophe in modern history is imminent. According to the UN development program, almost the entire Afghan population now lives below the poverty line. Many Afghans have expressed displeasure with the Biden administration’s decision to freeze billions of dollars in assets from the Afghan government central bank and distribute large portions to the families of the victims of 9/11. Worse, US sanctions have ravaged the banking system and prevented global humanitarian organizations from providing aid to Afghans.

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