By Midwestern standards, this has been an unsettling warm winter. An unforgiving blast of cold is quickly followed by complete calm and dripping overhangs, triggering sentiments of spring. When it comes to wearing appropriate attire, people seem to be confused. Runners in shorts bounce past those in knee-length parkas and clunky winter boots. When it comes to work ethic, the giddy energy associated with the mock spring weather is more distracting than a blanket of snow, which is conducive for hunkering down to work or study.
This mild winter isolates the humanitarian threats and dangers of winter from those fortunate enough to have reliable indoor heating, warm clothing and full meals. But when the New York Times reported that 28 children had died from the cold in refugee camps in Afghanistan, since mid-January, the harsh reality of winter broke back into mainstream media and the consciousness of readers.
Despite the Afghan government’s early denial of winter-related deaths, aid groups such as USAID, Welthungerhilfe and Aschiana, among others, have been working to provide basic winter provisions and bear the weight of witnessing such immense need. (more…)