The U.S. is experiencing a relatively mild winter, but the opposite is true in Afghanistan. Temperatures near the capital city of Kabul recently dipped to 3 degrees Fahrenheit making this winter the coldest in 15 years.
As is often the case, the people who are most vulnerable are also the least equipped to protect themselves against the cold. The New York Times recently reported the deaths of 28 children in Kabul in recent months, and the 30,000 Afghans who are living in informal settlements throughout the capital city remain at a high risk of hypothermia.
In fact, well before the winter months, with USAID funding and support, emergency supplies were stockpiled in preparation for the freezing temperatures. Since the onset of the extreme cold and winter emergency conditions, USAID has been coordinating with the United Nations and international organizations to distribute this emergency aid to the settlements surrounding Kabul, as well as other areas affected by extreme winter weather. USAID and its implementing partners are especially focused on reaching vulnerable populations, including women and children. By the end of last week, emergency relief supplies, including blankets, tarpaulins, clothing, stoves, and fuel, had been sent to all of the informal settlements near Kabul.
While winter aid is reaching many Afghans, both in the Kabul area and in more distant provinces, the humanitarian response is not without challenges. The dangerous security environment makes it hard to safely reach vulnerable populations, and rugged terrain slows aid to remote regions. Despite the challenges, USAID will help Afghans make it through the winter and continue our commitment to improve their quality of life into the future.