Freezing Temperatures Kill At Least 16 Children In Afghanistan

An Afghan official has confirmed that at least 16 children have died in refugee camps outside the capital this month due to record freezing temperatures.

KABUL -- An Afghan official has confirmed that at least 16 children have died outside the capital this month due to the record freezing temperatures.

Dr. Ghulam Sakhi Kargar, spokesman for the Afghan Public Health Ministry, confirmed the numbers on February 8 after Afghan authorities initially cast doubt on whether the children died in three refugee camps outside Kabul.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan, Kargar said nine children had died in Charahi Qambar refugee camp, five in Bagrami, and one in Milibas.

He indicated that medic teams were being sent to the camps to address the rising health concerns there.

"The reasons for the deaths are the cold weather," he said. "Most of them have died during the night and have been found dead in the morning. The most important thing is that we have assigned mobile health teams to visit these camps. If their concerns are routine, [the refugees] will be given basic treatment. If [their situation is more serious], then they will be taken to one of our healthcare facilities."

Worst Weather In Years

An Afghan man living in one of the refugee camps, who declined to give his name, told RFE/RL that his young son died this week.

"He was in the cold," he said. "We woke up and saw that he was dead. He had no problems before. In the morning we woke up and saw he was already dead."

More than 30 Afghans, mostly in the country’s remote northeast, have died this winter after heavy snow falls and record cold temperatures.

The Afghan meteorological service said Kabul is experiencing the worst weather it has had in at least 15 years.

The Associated Press news agency quoted National Weather Center meteorologist Abdul Qadir Qadir on February 8 as saying that temperatures in the Afghan capital have plummeted to as low as minus 16 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature previously on record was minus 17 degrees Celsius about 15 years ago.

Heavy snow across the capital has caused widespread power blackouts and raised the demand for wood, the main fuel used by the city’s 5 million inhabitants to heat their homes.

With agency reports

Copyright (c) RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


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