Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, May 1st, 2017

Cold Weather and Insecurity Haunt Afghanistan

It is really unfortunate to see that Afghanistan has been suffering from both the wrath of cold weather and increasing insecurity. And, mostly civilians and poor people of Afghanistan have been undergoing these sufferings. As they are not properly equipped to fight against the wrath of the cold weather and the security circumstances are also not pleasant for them, they are seriously influenced by them and unfortunately the measures that are being taken by the responsible authorities are not timely and sufficient. Moreover, the Taliban insurgents take advantage of all these conditions to further suppress the poor masses.

The current snowfall in different parts of the country has victimized several people. According to certain news reports hundreds of people have died in the past few days in avalanches and heavy snowstorms in different parts of the country, mostly central and northern parts. Government officials have also confirmed that over 80 people have been injured in weather related incidents and about 22 provinces have been effected.

According to a statement by UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kabul, “At least 50 people were reported as killed, with a further 13 injured from an avalanche in Nuristan which occurred in the early hours of February 05 (Sunday). Further casualties from other avalanches and heavy snowfall were also reported in other areas around Afghanistan, including a reported 10 killed and 12 injured in Darwaz Bala, Badakhshan province.”

As Afghanistan is suffering from limited resources and unpreparedness people seem to suffer more than expected when they face any natural disaster. The current snowfall and avalanches in certain parts of the country have taken many lives that could be saved. As, there is no effective mechanism to respond to the emergencies in most of the remote areas of the country, the disasters have proved to be gigantic and the poor people have suffered misery and agony.

Almost every year severe cold weather victimizes many poor people as they do not have enough capacity to secure themselves. As the people in the affected areas, because of their wretched and torn shelters and no fuel or wood to burn, are victimized, there is no support from the relevant officials to provide them the facilities to fight against the death. The result is misery. And when the severe cold weather turn into disasters in the form of avalanches in some parts of country, the incapacity of the government to help its people out of the disaster is exposed to a large extent.
There are many lives that can be saved through proper and timely efforts. Moreover, there are many other areas as well that are necessary to be given proper attention by the government so that such disasters and incidents should be properly handled. Among them making a very well-equipped and properly trained disaster management unit is the most important one. At the same time making the different parts of country accessible through proper roads is also an important one. Many places happen to be in the remotest of the areas, where the rescue teams and equipment take a very lengthy time to reach as there are no proper roads.

Coupled with the ongoing wrath of the cold weather is the increasing insecurity. A UN report issued on Monday, February 6, recorded the highest ever number of civilian casualties in a single year, including record figures for children killed and injured in 2016. The report documents 11,418 conflict-related civilian casualties, including 3,498 killed and 7,920 injured. Of these, 3,512 were children - 923 dead and 2,589 injured, up 24 percent on the previous highest recorded figure. The figures, recorded by UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), are the highest since the UN began systematically documenting civilian casualty figures in 2009.

The report notes that in the reported year, ground engagements between Anti-Government Elements and Pro-Government Forces, particularly in areas populated or frequented by civilians, remained the leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by improvised explosive devices (IED), suicide and complex attacks, as well as targeted and deliberate killings.

The report also documents the increase in attacks perpetrated by Daesh, particularly targeting Shia Muslims.

This is really tragic and shows how the life is getting difficult for the civilians in the country. After the downfall of Taliban and particularly after the withdrawal of international troops, there were hopes that Afghanistan would move towards a self-reliant country with a democratic government that would represent all the people of Afghanistan and would ultimately work for its development and particularly to ensure security and strengthen peace-building initiatives; however, that never happened. All those hopes remained only dreams and the realities have started haunting the poor people. It has always been the poor people who have suffered the agony and the troubles and the situation will remain the same unless there are efforts to change the overall mentality of the governing authorities and, at the same time, prevailing government structure that has failed to deliver anything worthwhile.