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Ahead of harsh winter, UN distributes aid for 200,000 vulnerable Afghans

Ahead of harsh winter, UN distributes aid for 200,000 vulnerable Afghans

A winterization aid distribution in Kabul.
The United Nations refugee agency today began distributing relief items in Kabul as part of a nationwide programme to help some 200,000 vulnerable Afghans survive the upcoming winter.

Blankets, warm clothes, charcoal and other winter supplies were provided today to 1,500 returnees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the capital, where temperatures can plummet to minus 20 degrees Celsius in January, the coldest month. In other regions, such as the central highlands area, winter temperatures are as low as minus 30 degrees.

In addition to returnees and IDPs, the disabled, the elderly and single mothers are also expected to benefit from the assistance package provided by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“We have pre-positioned winter supplies throughout Afghanistan based on an earlier needs assessment of tens of thousands of families across the country,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

“Supplies were strategically moved to the areas with harsh winters, such as the western region, where heavy snow would otherwise impede access,” he stated, adding that the agency has teamed up with the Government and local partners to ensure aid can reach areas that are difficult to access.

The winterization programme will continue over the coming weeks and is expected to be complete by end of December.

Mr. Mahecic said that UNHCR’s winter assistance strategy has emphasized preparedness rather than emergency response. “By giving out warm clothes, shoes and other winter relief early in the season, we hope to prevent illness and hardship for the most vulnerable people.”