Drug addicts living under the Pul-e-Sukhta Bridge in Kabul city said on average two to four fellow addicts are dying each day due to the severe cold currently gripping the capital.
The Pul-e-Sukhta Bridge is a well-known location for homeless addicts, who also live there with their families.
According to one addict, Rahman, between two and four people die each day.
“The weather is very cold and those addicts who do not have blankets to cover themselves die.”
“Addicted persons have come here from every province. We are living in very bad conditions,” said Omid, another drug addict.
Gul Ahmad, who also lives there, said he has used heroin for the past eight years. He also said eight people have died in the past few days.
“Lots of addicted people die here. Our body’s resistance is very weak and if we stay in the cold, we will die,” he said.
Meanwhile, people living in the vicinity said the amount of rubbish in the area and the stench was really bad. They also said the amount of robberies had increased.
“If we leave our doors of our homes open for a while, they (addicts) will steal whatever they find. We complained many times, but nothing has changed,” Zahara, a resident in the area said.
One family of three living in a tent under the bridge is in a bad way. Both the woman and her husband are addicts and live there with their child.
The man was once employed by government, he said. According to them, the mother first started using heroin in Iran. The father also then started and has been an addict for three years.
“When I was working in the (government) office, I hated smoking, but now I am using drugs. My wife has been out of the tent from last night and now she has got mental problems,” said the father of the family.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) however says they are trying to address the problem.
“The budget that we have for treatment of addicts is not much and has not been approved yet. If the budget does not increase, in the next year we will face many problems. We will transfer this week a number of addicts from Pul-e-Sukhta to reduce the number of people dying every day,” said Abdul Manan Azad Manish, head of the drug reduction department of MoPH.