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Afghanistan: Emergency distribution to combat Kabul's bitter weather

11-02-2005 News Release 05/13

Afghanistan is currently experiencing its coldest winter in years, with icy conditions, heavy snow, and reports of people dying from cold in the tented squatter camps scattered around the capital, Kabul.

©ICRC /BARRY, Jessica ref. AF-E-00321 
  The makeshift shelters offer little protection from the bitter cold.    
©ICRC /BARRY, Jessica ref. AF-E-00322 
  Old people are amongst the most vulnerable when the weather is freezing    

Following a request from the Afghan Ministry of Health and an assessment of the needs, Italian Cooperation, working in conjunction with the Italian Red Cross and the ICRC, distributed 45 tonnes of wood and over 400 blankets on 1 February to families living in a makeshift camp at Chaman-i-Babrak on the outskirts of Kabul. A similar distribution was carried out to 60 families living in another tented camp, Shahi Shahid, the following day.

Nearly 200 families – about half the camp's residents – benefited from the aid provided in Chaman-i-Babrak. While it certainly did not cover all the needs, it was a start. A further distribution is planned.


Many of the families are returnees from Pakistan and have been living in Chaman-i-Babrak, in abysmal conditions, for months and even years. The place lacks all amenities, and the ragged shelters are made from mud and plastic sheeting for the most part.

For Abdul Qahar, a former soldier, and his family of eight, the aid was sorely needed. Six days earlier his wife, Nazia, had given birth to their sixth child, a daughter, whom they named Nasima. Wrapped in white swaddling clothes, the tiny baby lay in her mother's arms in their grim, mud shelter as Abdul Qahar entered to tell his family of the unexpected distribution.

Chaman-i-Babrak is a desperate place in which to bring up children. The numbing winter weather makes it all the worse. But at least for now, there will be wood for the fire, and bla nkets enough in which to wrap Nasima as she gets used to a cold, unfamiliar world.



 For further information, please contact:  

 Jessica Barry, ICRC Kabul, tel. +9370 282 719 or +9370 276 465