30/Jul/2014 - Last News Update: 22:03

Anger as Afghan children die in winter freeze

Category: World

Published: 22nd Feb 2012 01:44:09

A tiny wisp of steam floating from a kettle is the only hint of anything warm inside Samar Gul's tent.

After making tea there was no wood left to fire the stove - as fresh snow began to settle outside.

Everything inside was damp - the blankets, the floor and even the foam-filled flat cushions on which his family sleeps.

Gul's two-year-old daughter is shivering, her nose streaming.

He hugs her to his chest.

"Where has Kabulay gone?" she asks.

He tries to change the subject.

Last week Kabulay - his youngest daughter - froze to death in this tent.

"We were up all night trying to keep her warm but we didn't have enough blankets," he says.

"Then we heard her cough. It was her last breath."

Kabulay is one of nearly 40 children to die so far this winter - one of the harshest in years.

But it has left Afghanistan's Western-backed government exposed to new questions over its competence despite receiving billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Why, Afghans ask, can it not do something as simple as protect people against the predictable winter cold?

Most of these deaths have been happening not in far-off valleys of the Hindu Kush but in the capital, Kabul - the focus of the international aid effort.

Like many other children who perished, Kabulay died in a tented camp for people displaced by the war between Nato and the Taliban.

I am sorry for what has happened to the children. They do not have the support they need - and they are the future of our country”

There are now more than 40 such encampments around the capital housing at least 30,000 people, according to the UN.

Their numbers have grown by nearly 50% in the past year - with people coming from as far as Helmand and Kandahar.

They arrive in a city already burdened by tens of thousands of refugees who have returned from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran in recent years.

Samar Gul fled to Gul Buta camp with his wife, son and then two daughters last year because of heavy fighting in his home village east of Kabul.

The internally displaced are bottom of the heap.

Reluctant to institutionalise these camps, the government has been accused of ignoring their needs.

A large well-guarded Afghan army base is just minutes walk away from the Gul Buta camp.

But the 1,000 residents of this ramshackle collection of tents say they have seen no official help.

Prompted by reports of the child deaths, international aid groups are now bringing aid to Gul Buta and other camps.

But it is barely skimming the surface of the problem. There is still little chance that any of them will receive proper shelter.

Some children are wearing donated boots, but many pick their way through the snow in open-toed sandals.

For Christine Roehrs of Save the Children, all this proves that the international community "cannot leave this country".

She is careful, though, not to ascribe any blame.

Not so Kabul independent MP Fakhandar Zahra Nadri, who calls the Afghan government "useless" for what she says is its lack of planning.

"The same pattern of irresponsibility keeps happening year after year," she says.

Jamaher Anwari, the minister responsible for internally displaced people and refugees, admits that the government has again been overwhelmed.

"I am sorry for what has happened to the children," he says.

"They do not have the support they need - and they are the future of our country."

As the West tries to speed up efforts to disengage from Afghanistan, it is hardly an encouraging sign from the government that it wants to leave behind.

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. Anger as Afghan children die in winter freeze [Online] (Updated 22nd Feb 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/836942/Anger-as-Afghan-children-die-in-winter-freeze [Accessed 30th Jul 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Welsh ambulance response time target missed in June

    Welsh ambulances have again missed their target of reaching 65% of life-threatening incidents in eight minutes.
  • Big Bang Theory production delayed over contract dispute

    Work on the eighth series of US sitcom The Big Bang Theory has failed to start on time, as the principal cast members fight for higher salaries.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Milltown: Connection between British soldier and IRA man discovered

    The graves of a highly unusual father and son have been discovered in Belfast's Milltown Cemetery; one was a British soldier and the other was in the IRA.
  • Bank of America's Countrywide to pay $1.3bn to US

    Bank of America's Countrywide business must pay the US government $1.3bn (£769m) for selling defective home loans, a New York judge has ruled.
  • Kurtis Beech in court over £1m jewellery raid in Edinburgh

    A 28-year-old man has appeared in court in connection with a £1m robbery at a jewellery store in Edinburgh.