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Air pollution in Afghan capital is deadlier than war

Afghanistan's authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country's capital, which may be even deadlier than the 18-year-old war.

There are no official statistics on how many Afghans die of pollution-related illnesses, but the research group State of Global Air said more than 26,000 deaths could be attributed to air pollution in 2017, compared to 3,483 civilians killed that year in the Afghan war.

Most days a layer of smog covers Kabul, a city of some 6 million, and it gets worse in the winter, when people burn coal, garbage, plastic and rubber to heat their homes in the bitter cold.

In this Oct. 15, 2019 photo, an Afghan girl receives treatment for respiratory problems at a pediatric hospital, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. The research group State of Global Air said more than 26,000 deaths could be attributed to air pollution in 2017, compared to 3,483 civilians killed that year in the Afghan war. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

Decades of war have wrecked the city's infrastructure and caused waves of displaced people. Their camps are surrounded by garbage dumps, with no proper water or sanitation system.

In this Oct. 29, 2019 photo, Yusouf, who escaped war in eastern Afghanistan to safeguard his family, speaks during an interview in Kabul, Afghanistan. In the capital, Kabul, five of his children died, not from violence or bombings, but from air pollution, worsened by bitter cold and poverty. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. photo, smoke comes out from silencer of an old mini-bus in Kabul, Afghanistan. Authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. Most days a layer of smog covers Kabul, and it gets worse in the winter, when people burn coal, garbage, plastic and rubber to heat their homes. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Oct. 15, 2019 photo, Afghan children receive treatment for respiratory problems at a pediatric hospital, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. The research group State of Global Air said more than 26,000 deaths could be attributed to air pollution in 2017, compared to 3,483 civilians killed that year in the Afghan war. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Oct. 23, 2019 photo, trucks unload garbage at the Kabul Municipality dump yard, on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. Authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. Most days a layer of smog covers Kabul, and it gets worse in the winter, when people burn coal, garbage, plastic and rubber to heat their homes. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Oct. 29, 2019 photo, a woman who fled with her husband Yousuf and family from their home in eastern Afghanistan, burns plastic to make tea at a camp for displaced people, in Kabul, Afghanistan. The pollution may be even deadlier than Afghanistan’s war, now 18 years long. There are no official statistics on how many Afghans die of pollution-related illnesses, but the research group State of Global Air said more than 26,000 deaths could be attributed to it in 2017. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Oct. 16, 2019 photo, smoke comes out from the exhaust pipe of an old mini-bus in Kabul, Afghanistan. Authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. Most days a layer of smog covers Kabul, and it gets worse in the winter, when people burn coal, garbage, plastic and rubber to heat their homes. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 photo, loaders work at the Kabul Municipality dump yard on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. Authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. Most days a layer of smog covers Kabul, and it gets worse in the winter, when people burn coal, garbage, plastic and rubber to heat their homes. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Oct. 23, 2019 photo, Abdul Basir Akhundzada head of Kabul municipality garbage dump yard, walks at garbage dump yard on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. Kabul, a city of some 6 million, has become one of the most polluted cities in the world, as decades of war have wrecked infrastructure and caused waves of displaced people. Authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Oct. 15, 2019 photo, an Afghan child receives treatment for respiratory problems at a pediatric hospital, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Kabul, a city of some 6 million, has become one of the most polluted cities in the world, as decades of war have wrecked infrastructure and caused waves of displaced people. Authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

In this Oct. 15, 2019 photo, Nargis Mohmand, Kabul Municipality's spokeswoman, gives an interview to The Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan. Kabul, a city of some 6 million, has become one of the most polluted cities in the world, as decades of war have wrecked infrastructure and caused waves of displaced people. Authorities are trying to tackle pollution in the country’s capital, which may be even deadlier than 18-year-old war. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)