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Afghanistan battles against cold and snow
 


SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
Afghanistan is no stranger to cold weather. The average night time temperature in February is minus 6C.


Musadeq Sadeq/AP
Heavy snowfall and avalanches kill scores of people in Afghanistan each winter.


Musadeq Sadeq/AP
In 2010, avalanches killed more than 150 people in the high-altitude Salang pass through the Hindu Kush mountain range that connects Kabul to the north.


SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
This winter has been one of the most severe in the last 15 years.


Musadeq Sadeq/AP
With so much snow falling, spades have become a valuable commodity.


SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
The heavy snow has meant that normal life has become far more difficult.


SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
The lowest temperature recorded in Kabul at night, was a bone-chattering minus 17C.


OMAR SOBHANI/REUTERS
The situation is particularly hazardous for the 35,000 people living in refugee camps in the middle of Kabul.


Musadeq Sadeq/AP
The camps are full of families who have fled the fighting in areas like Helmand Province in the south. These camps have no heating or electricity.


OMAR SOBHANI/REUTERS
The harsh winter has led to the deaths of at least 40 children in Afghanistan in the last month, two dozen of those were living in the refugee camps.


Musadeq Sadeq/AP
Despite the problems it has caused, the snow is needed in Afghanistan, as it has remained in the grip of a drought for the last 12 years.


SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
However, the severely low temperatures are taking their toll on all those who live in the country.


S. SABAWOON/EPA
Temperatures in Kabul are expected to stay well below freezing over the next few days.


While much of central and eastern Europe continues to struggle through the bitter winter weather, Afghanistan is also battling against one of its harshest winters in 15 years. In the case of Europe, we do expect milder air (and with it the threat of flooding) to finally filter in from the west this week. However, in the case Afghanistan, forecasters do not expect an end to this current cold spell for the foreseeable future.

At times this winter, we have seen the temperature in the capital, Kabul dip to minus 16C which is around 12 degrees below the seasonal average. The city is located in a valley at an altitude of about 1800m so snow is a regular feature here, but even since the start of 2012 we have seen a staggering 90cm of snow so far, with more to come.

It’s not just the snow that’s been causing problems though, this winter averaging around 5 or 6 degrees colder than last winter. As a result, more than 40 people, most of them children, have now frozen to death in the refugee camps around the outskirts of Kabul.

The government has so far recorded 41 deaths from freezing conditions in the three provinces of Kabul, Ghor and Badakhshan. The National Weather Centre has confirmed that this is Kabul’s worst cold snap and heaviest snowfall in 15 years.

The UN and US aid agency have started to hand out extra blankets, tents and fuel to people living in the 40 camps around the capital. Most of these refugees are Afghans who have fled the war and Taliban intimidation Helmand and Kunduz provinces. The heavy snow, which has also been very wet, has been responsible for blackouts across large parts of Kabul.


Afghanistan battles against cold and snow
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Afghanistan is no stranger to cold weather. The average night time temperature in February is minus 6C. ;*;Heavy snowfall and avalanches kill scores of people in Afghanistan each winter.;*;In 2010, avalanches killed more than 150 people in the high-altitude Salang pass through the Hindu Kush mountain range that connects Kabul to the north.;*;This winter has been one of the most severe in the last 15 years.;*;With so much snow falling, spades have become a valuable commodity.;*;The heavy snow has meant that normal life has become far more difficult.;*;The lowest temperature recorded in Kabul at night, was a bone-chattering minus 17C.;*;The situation is particularly hazardous for the 35,000 people living in refugee camps in the middle of Kabul. ;*;The camps are full of families who have fled the fighting in areas like Helmand Province in the south. These camps have no heating or electricity.;*;The harsh winter has led to the deaths of at least 40 children in Afghanistan in the last month, two dozen of those were living in the refugee camps.;*;Despite the problems it has caused, the snow is needed in Afghanistan, as it has remained in the grip of a drought for the last 12 years.;*;However, the severely low temperatures are taking their toll on all those who live in the country.;*;Temperatures in Kabul are expected to stay well below freezing over the next few days.
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AFP/Getty Images;*;AP;*;AP;*;AFP/Getty Images;*;AP;*;AFP/Getty Images;*;AFP/Getty Images;*;REUTERS;*;AP;*;REUTERS;*;AP;*;AFP/Getty Images;*;EPA
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