Afghanistan in cold weather, aid workers rush to save millions – Times of India

Pul-e-Alam (Afghanistan): A twinkling flame of paper, rags and random twigs is the only warmth Gulnaz has to keep her 18-month-old son warm, barely visible under his icy blanket as he is a bitter cold on the highway begs for on the road Accept,
The 70-kilometre (45-mile) section of the highway is surrounded by snow-laden hills. Sometimes a driver slows down his car and drops an Afghani note into the bare, dirty hand of a 28-year-old woman. She sits for hours on a highway vehicle, which is located right ahead of a bump in the road that slows down traffic.
His 16-year-old sister Khaleda is sitting nearby. Both are hiding behind blue veils. By the end of the day, Gulnaz, who gave just one name, says he can make 300 afghanis ($2.85). But most days are less.
Taliban take power In August, Afghanistan pulled billions of dollars of international aid out of the country and sent an already filthy poor nation ravaged by war, drought and floods, which was heading towards one. humanitarian disaster,
But in recent weeks it has been a cold winter that is ravaging the most vulnerable and international aid organizations scrambling to save millions from starvation or cold because they have no food and no food. This is fuel. For the poorest people the only means of heat or cooking are coal or wood that they can get from snowy roads or from aid groups.
Shelley Thakral, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program in Afghanistan, said: “The problem for the people in Afghanistan now is dire.” “We’re calling it a race against time. We need to reach families in very tough, difficult areas. It’s winter, it’s cold, it’s snow.”
The cost of human effort is staggering. Thakral said this year alone the WFP would need $2.6 billion.
“Break down that number. It’s $220 million a month, it’s 30 cents per person per day, and that’s what we’re asking for. . . . We need money because we need to reach people as quickly as possible. ”
Earlier this month the United Nations launched its largest single-country appeal for more than $5 billion in aid. devastated afghanistan,
It is estimated that nearly 90 percent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people depend on aid, and the United Nations says about three million people have been displaced in their own country, driven from their homes by drought, war and famine. have been displaced.
In 2020 alone, 700,000 Afghans were displaced, many living in desperate conditions on the outskirts of cities, in parks and open spaces, wherever they could set up a temporary shelter.
Gulnaz moved from the northern province of Kunduz to the central Logar province, where her husband was a police officer. But her work dried up with the war and the arrival of the Taliban, and “here we come,” she said, as she sat with her sister by the side of the highway connecting Logar’s capital, Pul-e-Alam, to Kabul.
“We don’t have heat in the house and every day whether it’s raining or snowing, we come and sit here,” she said.
In Pul-e-Alam, where temperatures can drop to minus-16 °C (3 °F) in January and February, thousands of men and women line up in the freezing cold to receive rations of flour from the World Food Programme. are oil, salt and pulses.
The WFP surveyed the city for the needy, giving each a voucher to collect their rations, but word quickly spread through the snow and mud-covered streets that food was being distributed and soon several men and women The women pushed and pleaded for ration. A fight broke out between some of the crowd and the security forces tried to cordon off those without vouchers.
Each day for a week this month, the WFP distributed rations to 500 families a day, said Hussain Andisha, who manages the distribution. He said that most of the people of Logar province are desperate.
As he spoke, four women wearing burqa overtook the men at the gate to collect the vouchers. No one had a ration card, but they pleaded for food. One woman, who gave her name only as Sadrat, said her husband was a drug addict – a devastating problem that has grown over the past two decades, with one million people, or 8% of Afghanistan’s population, as addicts. According to the United Nations, Afghanistan produces more than 4,000 tonnes of opium annually. Raw materials are used to make heroin.
“I don’t know where he is. I don’t have food for my kids. Please I need some,” she said.
Like hundreds of thousands of Afghans, poverty and conflict drove Sadrat and his five children to the capital, 38 kilometers (24 mi) from their rural home in the Charakh district of Logar province.
Shouting from behind Sadrat, another woman, Riza Gul, said that she has 10 children and a husband who earns less than a day as a laborer, the day she finds work.
“What can we do? Where can we go?” He pleaded.
Andisha said the January distribution would provide staples to 2,250 families in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of about 23,000 people. WFP has already surveyed seven districts of Logar province and started distribution in four. The roads are deep in snow and the path is slow and can be treacherous for hundreds of trucks carrying food.