KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — More than 40 people, most of them children, have frozen to death in what has been Afghanistan's coldest winter in years, an Afghan health official said Monday.
The government has recorded 41 deaths from freezing in three provinces — Kabul, Ghor and Badakhshan, said Health Ministry spokesman Ghulam Sakhi Kargar.
All but three or four of those deaths were children, he said. Twenty-four of the deaths were in the capital of Kabul, mostly in camps for people who have fled fighting elsewhere in the country.
Kabul has been experiencing its worst cold snap and heaviest snowfall in 15 years, according to the National Weather Center.
The hardest-hit have been people living in tents in a number of camps around the capital. The deaths in these camps, so close to the offices of international organizations overseeing billions of dollars in aid to the country, have shocked many in Kabul.
The U.N. and the U.S. aid agency have started distributing extra blankets, tarps and fuel to people living in 40 camps throughout the city, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement last week. Most of those in the camps have fled from Helmand and Kunduz provinces, though some are Afghans who have returned from years living in Iran and Pakistan to find themselves homeless, the statement said.
Kargar says the ministry is establishing mobile clinics to try to get help out to people suffering in the cold.
The cold has also caused a spike in the price of gas and wood. Heavy snows also damaged high tension wires coming into the capital, causing blackouts in large swaths parts of Kabul.