Afghanistan sees first snow of 2021 as winter chill sets in

The country's fragile economy is nearing collapse as people worry about how to stay warm

Concerns over shelter and hunger in Afghanistan are growing amid the first snowfall in the country's capital this year.

As Afghan youths huddled around fires and men carrying goods cycled through light slush, NGOs warned of an impending disaster of cold and hunger for millions of Afghans.

The abrupt withdrawal of foreign aid following the Taliban victory in August left Afghanistan's fragile economy on the brink of collapse, with prices for food, fuel and other basic staples rising rapidly out of reach for many.

Surveys by the World Food Programme showed an estimated 98 per cent of Afghans are not eating enough, with seven in 10 families resorting to borrowing to buy food, pushing them deeper into poverty.

“The spiralling economic crisis, the conflict and drought has meant the average family can now barely cope,” WFP representative Tomson Phiri told a Geneva briefing. “We have a huge amount to do to stop this crisis from becoming a catastrophe.”

As the financial situation worsens in Afghanistan, British charities launched a joint appeal to raise cash to help children “at risk of dying this winter” in Afghanistan. The UK government has committed to matching the amount raised up to £10 million ($13.2m).

Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) charities, including the International Rescue Committee UK, the British Red Cross, Save the Children and CAFOD, say “fast” action is needed to help the eight million people at risk of starvation over winter.

A million children under the age of five are at risk of dying over the next three months, it is believed.

“There's a sense of desperation today with no light at the end of the tunnel,” said Maryann Horne of the British Red Cross. “This is no longer about making things better, this is about saving lives and being able to reach those who most need it in time before the winter sets in and before it's too late.”

Updated: December 15th 2021, 4:27 PM