Winter Puts 300K Afghan Children at Risk

By Syed Zabiullah Langari 

“There they risk hunger, disease, including COVD-19, even death from freezing temperatures,” the organization said.

More than 300,000 Afghan children face freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness, in the worst cases death, without proper winter clothing and heating, Save the Children said on Thursday.

“The early snow in the northern parts of Afghanistan where we work has impacted children particularly badly. The most vulnerable children are those whose schools have shut because of the worsening winter conditions. Their families don’t have the money to buy winter clothing. Instead children are forced to huddle at home to escape the bitter cold.” Said Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children’s Country Director in Afghanistan.

“It also means it is more difficult for us to reach these children to provide them with winter clothing. We must go from home to home to deliver thick coats and blankets.” He said.

According to Save the Children, the ongoing conflict has also destroyed many homes and forced thousands of children to shelter in camps for the homeless.

“There they risk hunger, disease, including COVD-19, even death from freezing temperatures,” the organization said.

“The situation is bleak for children forced to live in camps in places like Balkh province. It is already very cold in this northern province with overnight temperatures as low as minus ten. But it will get much colder before March,” said Nyamandi.

“Here, and in camps in other parts of Afghanistan, plastic sheeting and the clothes they wear are often all that separates them from the freezing temperatures.

“For thousands of children the Afghan winter is a time of grim survival,” added Nyamandi.

Back in August, the World Food Program (WFP) had said that about 16 million Afghans are in serious need of humanitarian aid and hunger and lack of food safety are threatening them.

According to WFP, nearly 4 million people in Afghanistan have lost their income sources following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Afghanistan still should be the focus point of the international community. Afghanistan is one of the countries where the level of hunger, lack of food safety and poverty are still very high because of the coronavirus,” said Wahid Amani, a spokesman for the WFP in Afghanistan at the time.

In May 2020, Save the Children said that more than seven million children in Afghanistan are at risk of hunger as food prices soar due to the lockdown following the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

The organization also warned that a third of the country will face food shortages.

The report stated that the “most recent nutrition surveys in Afghanistan show that an estimated two million children under five will suffer from the most life-threatening form of extreme hunger annually. The effects of the lockdown coupled with one of the weakest health systems in the world – Afghanistan has just 0.3 doctors per 1,000 people – means malnourished and sick children are much less likely to get the life-saving treatment they need to survive.”

Last month, The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that Afghanistan remains the deadliest country for civilians, with the Afghan women and children make up half of the fatalities.

Robert Mardini, the director general of the ICRC who is currently visiting Afghanistan, said that the escalation of violence in Afghanistan in recent months has worsened the humanitarian situation in the country, adding that hundreds of injuries among them, many civilians have been admitted to hospitals in Kandahar, Helmand and Ghazni provinces.


Winter Puts 300K Afghan Children at Risk