Afghanistan battles against cold and snow

Afghanistan is struggling to cope with its coldest and snowiest winter in 15 years. Over 40 people have died so far.

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    A woman struggles to make her way through the snow covered streets of Kabul as the snow keeps falling[AFP]

    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.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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