Revealed: 300,000 Children Face Illness, Death, From Afghanistan's Freezing Winter Conditions

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Dec. 30, 2020) — More than 300,000 Afghan children face freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness, and in the worst cases death, without proper winter clothing and heating, warns Save the Children.

Schools are closed until March in the coldest parts of Afghanistan, where the temperature can plummet as low as negative 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children’s Country Director in Afghanistan, explains this is a terrible reality because the classroom is often the only source of warmth for children during the winter.

“The early snow in the northern parts of Afghanistan where Save the Children works 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 Nyamandi.

“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 continued.

The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan has destroyed many homes and forced thousands of children to shelter in camps for the homeless. There they risk hunger, disease, including COVD-19, and even death from freezing temperatures.

Twelve-year-old Rohina* lives in a camp for people forced to flee their homes in Balkh province.  She attends a Save the Children supported community-based education classes. She said, “We are poor and are living under the open sky. My siblings and I are not able to sleep during the night because of the cold. How someone can learn like this?”

“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, as we have already seen in other parts of Afghanistan,” Nyamandi continued. “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.

In response, Save the Children is providing:

  • Winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. These winter kits include fuel and a heater, skin hydration products, blankets, and winter clothes for children including coats, socks, shoes, hats.
  • Shelter repair kits for people made homeless by the fighting
  • 12 weeks of rent payments for families at risk of homelessness 

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