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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 11:47 GMT
Rain heralds Afghan winter
Food warehouse
Food supplies are needed urgently in many areas
By Kate Clark in Shomali, north of Kabul

The first rains of the winter have fallen in Kabul, the capital of drought-stricken Afghanistan.

Rain doesn't make the news in many places round the world, but in Afghanistan - now three years into the worst drought in living memory - the first rain of winter is eagerly anticipated.

There were several heavy downpours overnight in the Kabul area, and the sound of thunder rather than American bombs reverberated around the valleys.

Snow

Residents speaking by telephone from the Afghan capital said there had been no air raids during the night.

Queue in snow
Snow will make aid distribution hard
The mountains around Kabul are now topped with snow.

Next spring, it will act as a reservoir of irrigation water for farmers.

But in the short term, the snow will soon start to cause problems, eventually cutting off roads to commercial and food aid trucks trying to reach the hungry communities in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Already in places like the central highlands of Harzarajat, it is freezing at night.

Food and shelter

Speaking by satellite telephone from the town of Yakowlang, locals said the many refugees there were already starting to suffer.

Over the summer, the Taleban burned many villages in the area, hoping to suppress opposition.

That has left many people without adequate shelter or food supplies this winter.

They are still waiting for food aid to arrive, hoping it gets through before the passes become snow-bound.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
reports from Faislabad on the growing refugee crisis
See also:

25 Oct 01 | South Asia
Aid warning as supplies run out
14 Oct 01 | South Asia
Millions at risk in Afghan crisis
30 Oct 01 | South Asia
UN says 'don't ignore refugees'
31 Oct 01 | South Asia
Afghan settlement 'will take time'
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