Afghan Red Crescent to assist 17,500 at-risk displaced people during cold snap

Published: 22 February 2005

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an emergency appeal to support the Afghan Red Crescent as it brings much needed humanitarian assistance to vulnerable displaced people during a cold snap that has left hundreds dead. At least 260 people have perished in the extreme cold weather, though aid agencies believe the figure could be much higher, especially as many areas remain cut off by heavy snowfall.

“Many of the victims are children, who have been suffering from respiratory infections, pneumonia and whooping cough, and the elderly, who have died of hypothermia,” said Mrs. Fatima Gailani, the President and the Secretary General of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS).

Since the improvement of the political situation in Afghanistan, population movements have increased significantly, with almost 17,500 internally displaced people or returnees from other countries living in the capital, Kabul. The Afghan government, which is relocating these vulnerable groups to afford them better protection from the elements, has given the ARCS the responsibility of providing them with assistance. The International Federation’s appeal, for 812,000 Swiss francs (US$ 686,330 or euro535,620), is aimed at supporting the ARCS in its efforts.

“Our assistance to these families will include distributions of food and non-food relief items, improving living conditions and sanitation facilities, as well as preventive public health and hygiene promotion,” Mrs Gailani explained.
The International Federation has already donated a Disaster Response Unit consisting of a four-wheel drive vehicle equipped with telecommunications and emergency materials, as well as two medical Emergency Mobile Units, to the ARCS, which has established an emergency task force to monitor the crisis and coordinate the response.

Constant assessments are being carried out in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the government, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations.