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Afghanistan suffers worst winter in 30 years

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  • Aid workers launched emergency response to in Afghanistan to the cold
  • U.N. says regions suffering "the harshest winter in nearly 30 years"
  • Hundreds of deaths, temperatures dip to -30 degrees C (-22 degrees F)
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(CNN) -- Aid workers have launched emergency responses to help people in rugged and poverty-stricken central and western Afghanistan, enduring what the United Nations is describing as "the harshest winter in nearly 30 years."

Hundreds of deaths have been reported this winter as a result of the frigid temperatures, which have dipped to minus 30 degrees Celsius, or minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

The more mountainous regions have seen up to 180 centimeters, or nearly six feet of snow, and many of the regions slammed by the snow and cold are poorly accessible.

The United Nations says many entities are trying to deal with the problem: several U.N. agencies, Afghan provincial authorities, the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority, the Afghan Department of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, the Afghan Red Crescent Society, non-government organizations, provincial reconstruction teams, and NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a recent report that "some 329 fatalities have been reported" in Herat, Farah, Badghis, and Ghowr provinces

The humanitarian group Oxfam said more than 500 people have died in the region. Oxfam is distributing blankets and coal and launched a program to employ 150 people to clear snow.

"While the snow has mounted and the temperature has plunged to the low teens in parts of Afghanistan, most of those who have lost their lives since December were either elderly people or children. And the extreme conditions continue to make life miserable for tens of thousands of others," Oxfam said in a statement last week.

The International Organization for Migration is distributing blankets, sweaters and shawls to 2,500 internally displaced families in three camps in Herat province,

Serena Di Matteo, head of the IOM sub-office in Herat, said, "many of these people live in incredibly poor structures with practically no protection from the cold and have almost nothing." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Oxfam InternationalAfghanistanInternational Security Assistance ForceUnited Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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