At least 157 people have died in Afghanistan’s harsh winter, a Taliban official said on Tuesday.
The country suffers from one of its coldest winters, with temperatures plummeting to minus 28 degrees Celsius in early January – well below the national average of between 0 and 5 degrees Celsius for this time of year.
The impact has been exacerbated by the limited amount of humanitarian aid being provided in the country following the Taliban’s ban on female NGO workers.
This is reported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Twitter On Sunday, it delivered relief supplies such as blankets, heating and shelter to some 565,700 people.
“But much more is needed amid one of the coldest spells in years,” it added.
About 70,000 head of cattle have also frozen to death across the country, Shafiullah Rahimi, a spokesman for the Taliban Ministry of Disaster Management, told CNN on Tuesday.
Since the radical Islamist group took over in August 2021, Afghanistan has entered an economic and humanitarian crisis.
It has been ravaged by natural disasters and is entering its third straight year of drought-like conditions.
According to a recent UNOCHA report, an estimated 28.3 million people – about two-thirds of Afghanistan’s population – are in dire need of humanitarian assistance to survive.
At least half a dozen major foreign aid groups have suspended operations in Afghanistan since December, when the Taliban ordered all local and international non-governmental organizations to prevent their female employees from coming to work or risk having their licenses revoked.
Last week, some of the UN’s top female officials took a four-day trip to Afghanistan and met Taliban leaders in Kabul, asking for the ban to be lifted and “putting the well-being of the country first.”
Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, described the recent policy as a violation of women’s fundamental human rights.
“…Afghanistan is self-isolating, in the midst of a dire humanitarian crisis and one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth to climate change,” Mohammed said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to bridge this gap.”