At least 27 children have lost their lives due to freezing temperatures in northern Afghanistan, officials say.
The children, all under the age of five, were killed in the remote district of Darzab in Jawzjan Province over the last two or three days, said District Governor Rahmatullah Hashar on Thursday, adding that roads in the district were blocked by a blanket of snow as thick as half a meter.
He further said that the blockade, in turn, had cut off access for villagers in the region to medical care as temperatures dropped to minus 10 degrees Celsius.
Hashar said the toll could further rise.
The provincial governor’s spokesman, Reza Ghafoori, also confirmed the toll on Thursday and said that aid relief would be given to the affected areas through emergency committees.
Back in 2015, some 300 people lost their lives after they were buried under avalanches across the Asian country, most of them in the eastern mountainous province of Panjshir, north of the capital, Kabul.
Each winter, heavy snowfall and avalanches claim the lives of many people in Afghanistan, where inadequate emergency equipment does not match the scope of its natural disasters.
Afghanistan has been plagued by instability and militancy for years. Although the US military invasion of Afghanistan ousted the Taliban regime in 2001, it deteriorated the security situation across the country, causing near-daily violence and a constant displacement of its people.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that at least 9.3 million Afghans — nearly a third of the population — will require humanitarian assistance in 2017, a 13-percent increase compared to last year, which comes amid growing violence, economic stagnation, and social upheaval in the country.