‘Cold kills 17 in Afghanistan camps’

An internally displaced Afghan boy from Helmand province walks past piled snow outside mud shelterS for the displaced at the Charhi Qambar refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul. (File photo)

At least 17 people, including children, have been killed by severe cold weather in refugee camps in Afghanistan, Amnesty International says.

“These deaths were a preventable tragedy,” Amnesty’s deputy Asia Pacific director Polly Truscott said in a Tuesday statement.

The latest deaths, occurred in the first half of January in Herat and Kabul provinces, show “the inadequate co-ordination of winter assistance to hundreds of thousands of people living in displacement camps across the country,” Truscott said.

More than 500,000 Afghan internally displaced people are living in refugee camps in the war-torn country, one of the largest numbers in the world.

He added that children and the elderly were among the victims and called for protecting “those groups that are most vulnerable to the harsh winter conditions.”

“There is a desperate need to act now to prevent further deaths this winter. Afghanistan and its donor partners should remember that safeguarding lives in these settlements is an obligation under international law,” Truscott said.

Snap cold has claimed the lives of about 100 people, mostly children and the elderly, in last winter in Afghan refugee camps.