Harsh winter leaves vulnerable population exposed in Kabul
Three people have already succumbed to the cold in Kabul this winter, and the fear is this number will only rise. The Danish Refugee Council is working alongside other NGOs to assist the most vulnerable population in the informal settlements surrounding the city.
The winter in Kabul is extremely harsh, with heavy snowfall and temperatures at night regularly dropping below minus fifteen degrees Celsius with devastating effects to Kabul's most vulnerable populations in the informal settlements surrounding the city. Last year Kabul saw one of its harshest winters in two decades, with over 100 cold-related deaths in the settlements.
“A number of non-governmental and UN agencies are coordinating in the settlements to ensure a repeat of last year's tragedy doesn't occur. Danish Refugee Council is one of the leading agencies in this effort and we are doing everything in our power to protect the most vulnerable population in the settlements,” says DRC program coordinator for Afghanistan Rikke Johannessen.
In December, DRC distributed clothing and non-food item packages (including two tarps, three blankets, and cooking utensils) on behalf of UNHCR to 40,000 families in Afghanistan, 5,000 of them in the Kabul settlements. In January, DRC will distribute firewood to over 5,000 families in the informal settlements and will continue to distribute firewood in February.
"In our camp an old man passed away, two pregnant women lost their babies and many children get sick due to the winter, often leading to death," says Rahmatullah, a representatives of Charahi Qanbar - the largest camp in Kabul speaking of the ramifications the cold weather has already had.
People in the camps often live in tents or poorly constructed mud houses with roofs made with plastic tarpaulins. Services are extremely limited, and often altogether absent, and livelihood options consist of day-labor, begging, and collecting anything of value in heaps of refuse, making it difficult for families to purchase much needed firewood, clothing and other essential winter items.
The main aim of DRC's work in Kabul is to promote sustainable and durable solutions focusing on livelihood support for the increasing number of displaced. In 2012, DRC trained over 1,000 IDPs in various vocational trades through support from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and recently started training. In 2013, our activities in Kabul will include additional vocational training, apprenticeships, and small and medium enterprise development.