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Brutally cold weather and whooping cough threaten children

© NICEF/HQ03-0155/Noorani
A woman carries her toddler bundled up to ward off the cold, on a muddy street in the Kurt-e-Sakhi neighbourhood of Kabul, Afghanistan. Many children in Afghanistan have insufficient warm clothing to cope with the cold.
KABUL, Afghanistan, 15 February 2005 – An exceptionally severe winter is threatening the lives of many Afghan children, especially those in hard-to-reach areas. Heavy snows have blocked roadways, leaving children and their families stranded in the dangerous cold. An outbreak of whooping cough is compounding the threat.

“Afghanistan has brutal winters and this year has been particularly harsh. Unfortunately, children are always the first to suffer,” says UNICEF Communication Officer Edward Carwardine.

“This winter in Afghanistan has been, ironically, both the best and the worst for many people in recent years. It has been good because there has been an increased snowfall, which is great in terms of providing a water source for the summer. On the other hand, many areas of the country have become snowbound,” explains Mr. Carwardine.

© UNICEF/HQ02-0029/Noorani
Children from the village of Maluma, Afghanistan. UNICEF is distributing clothing, blankets and other emergency supplies to help children survive the winter.
Over 100 deaths from the harsh weather have been reported so far across Afghanistan. “Children are dying as a result of these poor weather conditions, particularly in the central areas, in the high mountainous areas, and up in the northeast of the country, which is a very rural and isolated part of Afghanistan,” says Mr. Carwardine.

Immunization campaigns to fight measles and whooping cough

UNICEF is working closely with local health authorities and government partners to protect the vulnerable children. The agency has provided vaccinations to help fight measles and whooping cough, which are major causes of child deaths. UNICEF is also providing warm clothing and blankets to the areas that have been hardest hit.

“Vaccination programmes have already started in Ghor province in the centre of Afghanistan. However, we hear that the vaccination teams have not been able to travel very far from the provincial capital because of the snow,” says Mr. Carwardine.

Over the last couple of years, UNICEF has supported measles vaccination campaigns, as well as vitamin A supplementation to help build up Afghan children’s resistance to disease. “UNICEF is hoping that this winter the impact of these efforts will be seen. Overall, we hope that the situation can be contained,” remarks Mr. Carwardine.




15 February 2005: UNICEF’s Edward Carwardine describes UNICEF’s efforts to protect Afghan children against a brutally cold winter.
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