Kabul, Jan 16 (EFE).- At least 16 people have died in Afghanistan due to a severe cold wave with minimum temperatures close to 20 degrees below zero, said an official on Monday.
The deadly cold conditions have left millions of Afghans desperately needing humanitarian aid, as hundreds of NGOs have suspended or cut short their activities in the wake of a Taliban ban on women working with aid groups.
It has prevented aid from reaching millions of women and children in need.
“Unfortunately, due to cold weather, recent snowfall, and rains, 16 people have died (across Afghanistan),” Mula Janan Sayeq, the risk mitigation director of the disaster management ministry, told EFE.
The worst-affected provinces are Badghis and Faryab in the northeast, Nimroz in the southwest, and Ghazni in the southeast).
Sayeq said the ministry began distributing aid to the families of the victims and the most vulnerable people.
The Taliban government has banned Afghan women from working for national and international NGOs.
Hundreds of nonprofits have “completely suspended or severely reduced” their activities in the country in protest against the ban that curbs women’s right to employment.
According to the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR), the suspension of aid works will have severe economic and humanitarian implications for NGOs and 11 million women and children in Afghanistan.
Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), visited Afghanistan to negotiate with the Taliban government to allow women to work with aid groups.
However, he failed to convince the Islamist regime to reverse its ban and expressed concern as Afghans battle harsh winter amid poverty.
“Leaving Afghanistan with a heavy heart. It was minus 20 C when we left Kabul. Millions will be without relief until we are again allowed to work with and through women,” Egeland said on Twitter on Saturday.
Deaths from the cold are common in Afghanistan due to the below-par infrastructure and basic amenities.
Millions of Afghans who have battled decades of conflict live in simple accommodations, some even in makeshift tents. EFE