Sat, 09 Dec 2023

© Provided by Xinhua

"We have no choice but to buy firewood, even to borrow, although our financial condition is poor," said a the young Afghan father.

KABUL, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- As the chilly winter is approaching in war-ravaged and mountainous Afghanistan, Abdullah, a resident in the national capital Kabul, is bargaining with a wood seller to buy firewood at a low price in order to keep his home warm in the harsh winter.

Although the weather in Kabul and many other parts of Afghanistan is already cold, and some mountains have been covered with snow, the winter season usually begins in mid-December in the Central Asian country.

"I have yet to buy (firewood) ... I live in my own house and cannot buy it. What would be the situation of those living in rented houses? " Abdullah said.

© Provided by Xinhua

The price for 560 kg firewood is 8,000 afghanis (about 116 U.S. dollars) to 9,000 afghanis, compared to 7,000 afghanis to 8,000 afghanis last year.

"In an impoverished country where you don't have a job, 8,000 afghanis or 9,000 afghanis are a huge amount of money. We have no choice but to buy firewood, even to borrow, although our financial condition is poor," the young father told Xinhua.

Blaming the country's economic hardships in part for the sanctions and assets-freezing by the United States, Abdullah said, "The money belongs to the people of Afghanistan. There would be jobs and economic activities if the money was not frozen."

In the wake of the withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan in August 2021, the White House froze the overseas assets of Afghanistan's central bank worth more than 9 billion U.S. dollars and later allocated part of the sum to the U.S. victims of the 9/11 attacks.

© Provided by Xinhua

Wood seller Hajji Juma Gul said freezing Afghanistan's assets has badly damaged the country's economy.

"Afghanistan would benefit, and the hustle and bustle would return to the market if the money was unfrozen. Roads and schools would be built, and all would benefit if the money was unfrozen," the man who has 18 family members told Xinhua.

Local people are buying much less firewood because of their poor financial situation, Gul said.

A central heating system can be barely seen in houses in Afghanistan's major cities, including Kabul. Afghans often use the traditional firewood stove to warm their houses during winter.

"I work every day from dawn to dusk to earn only 100 afghanis to 150 afghanis. I have to use the money to fill my vehicle with petrol. I have nothing," said Khalil, a driver of a three-wheel vehicle.

"Life is difficult. If I eat something today, I don't have anything to eat for the next two days," he said. (1 Afghani equals 0.015 U.S. dollar)

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