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"The United States has frozen Afghanistan money. Yes, it is such sanctions that have caused price hikes and poverty," said a local Afghan resident, who complained of U.S. sanctions against Afghanistan.
Living in a cave-turned shelter next to the Buddha site in central Afghanistan's Bamyan province and struggling to survive the chilly winter, Zarif blamed the tough winter life on the U.S. sanctions.
Following the withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces from the Asian country, Afghanistan's assets worth more than 9 billion U.S. dollars were frozen by the United States as part of its sanctions on the new rulers of the war-torn country.
"The United States has frozen Afghanistan money. Yes, it is such sanctions that have caused price hikes and poverty. The price of seven kg of wood used to be 40 to 50 afghani, but now it is beyond the reach of ordinary people," said Zarif.
In Afghanistan, seven kg of coal will cost 100 afghani now and the price of seven kg of wood is 90 afghani.
"The reasons for almost 90 percent of our problems are the sanctions," Zarif told Xinhua.
Extreme chilly weather and snowfall have swept through parts of Afghanistan since the first week of January when the temperature fell to minus 30 degrees Celsius in some areas.
Spokesman for the Ministry of Natural Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs Shafiullah Rahimi said in January that heavy snowfall and freezing weather had claimed 170 lives including women and children in the country over three weeks.
Recalling his recent bitter memories, Zarif said that he, his wife and his daughter got flu, fever and respiratory diseases due to the cold weather and had to pay more than 5,000 afghani for their recovery in hospital.
Like Zarif, another cave dweller Nadir Hussain has also blamed the U.S. for his suffering, saying since sanctions on Afghanistan poverty and unemployment have increased in the country.
"The U.S. sanctions have badly affected our living conditions, unemployment has increased, and the prices of everything have gone up," Hussain told Xinhua.
Hussain, 50, seeming older than his real age, said that his wife got seasonal respiratory disease recently due to the cold weather and could hardly afford her medical treatment.
Aid agencies predict that a record 28.3 million people, around two-thirds of the population, will need humanitarian assistance in 2023, with 6 million of them already perilously close to famine.