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Afghanistan: December 2013

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Western forces continue their long withdrawal from Afghanistan, scheduled to be complete within a year, save for a small number NATO advisers and security teams. Recent reports and evaluations of the state of affairs in Afghanistan indicate a bleak immediate future, despite billions of dollars of foreign aid. Human rights groups report that violence against women is intensifying, malnutrition is mysteriously on the rise nationwide, economic growth has dropped sharply, and continued foreign aid is threatened by possible instability post-withdrawal. Gathered here are recent images from this war-weary country, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. [38 photos]

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An Afghan worker inspects hundreds of shipping containers received by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, on October 28, 2013. These containers are often used to transport tons of scrap bought by Afghans from the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
An Afghan worker inspects hundreds of shipping containers received by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, on October 28, 2013. These containers are often used to transport tons of scrap bought by Afghans from the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Afghan children play on a frozen lake in Kabul, on December 31, 2013. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
Afghan men look at photographs of victims of war on display to mark Human Rights day at the ruined Darulaman Palace in Kabul, on December 10, 2013. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives during the past four decades of war in Afghanistan and human rights violation was prevalent during the Soviet invasion, civil war and Taliban wars. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #
Soldiers assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan watch the Afghanistan countryside from the tail of an aircraft after delivering bundles containing care packages, Christmas stockings and mail to soldiers stationed at a remote base in eastern Afghanistan, on December 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Capt. Thomas Cieslak, U.S. Army) #
An Afghan woman sits in the middle of a street in the hopes of donations in Kabul, on December 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
Afghan policemen stand behind a pile of burning narcotics in the outskirts of Kabul November 12, 2013. Over 20 tons of narcotics that were seized in the past ten months around Kabul by Afghan security forces were destroyed by the police, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail) #
The view of eastern Afghanistan, seen out the crew chief's window of a 10th Combat Aviation Brigade UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter January 2, over Kunar province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Matthew Clark) #
Afghan day laborer Zekrullah, 23, takes a break after preparing kilns to fire the bricks at a brick kiln factory on the outskirts of Kabul, on November 7, 2013. In the last two years, as US and NATO troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, brick makers say business has dropped off by almost half. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #
U.S. Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, fire a 120mm mortar system from Forward Operating Base Shukvani, Helmand province, on December 11, 2013. The mortars were being fired for target registration to ensure their accuracy. (USMC/Cpl. Sean Searfus) #
A worker for the Afghan Hajj and Religious Affairs Ministry is surrounded by flying pigeons as he collects dry wood from a rooftop near the unseen Shah-Do-Shamshira Mosque in Kabul, on December 29, 2013. Workers for the Religious Affairs Ministry sell bird feed to hundreds of devotees who come to the shrine daily to feed pigeons. The feeding of pigeons by Muslims has roots stretching back to medieval times, when they were used as message carriers and respected as the cleverest and most reverent of birds, as they never landed on the sacred Ka'aba inside the al-Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan child holds a pair of boots in a camp for the internally displaced on the outskirts of Mazar-e Sharif, north of Kabul, on January 6, 2014. Mazar-e Sharif has been experiencing below freezing weather and snow. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada) #
Newly-graduated Afghan midwives attend a commencement ceremony at the Governor's House in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, on December 5, 2013. Some 40 midwives graduated in the ceremony after undergoing a two and half year midwifery program. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan man rides a horse at sunset on Nadir Khan hilltop in Kabul, on December 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
Sharon Brynin, the mother of Lance corporal James Brynin, pays tribute as his coffin passes through Carterton, after the soldier was repatriated at nearby RAF Brize Norton on October 22, 2013 in Brize Norton, England. Brynin worked as an Intelligence Corps soldier attached to 14th Signal Regiment, he was deployed to serve in Helmand, Afghanistan in August 2013. While working for the Brigade Reconnaissance Force of 7th Armoured Brigade he was killed in action in the early hours of October 15, 2013 in the Nahr-e Saraj district. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #
Afghans go about their activities in snow-covered Kabul, on December 30, 2013. About two inches of snow fell overnight in Kabul marking the winter season's first snowfall in the city. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan Shi'ite Muslims flagellate themselves during a Muharram procession in Kabul, on November 10, 2013. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
An Afghan Army soldier adjusts his helmet during an exercise at a training facility in the outskirts of Kabul, on November 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #
Relatives surround the dead body of a 10-year-old Afghan girl during her funeral on the outskirts of Kabul, on October 27, 2013. An Afghan official and witnesses say a roadside bomb, apparently targeting a group of soldiers, killed a civilian in a market in the capital Kabul. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
Afghan villagers burn the home of a person accused of planting two roadside bombs in the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, on November 28, 2013. Afghan officials say the bombs killed several civilians in the country's eastern Nangarhar province.(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
An Afghan midwife trainer teaches midwifery students at the French NGO Medical Refresher Courses for Afghans (MRCA) in Mahmud Raqi, capital of Kapisa province, on December 17, 2013. As NATO forces pack up and shift out of Afghanistan, aid groups are determined to avoid following them, but they face rising militant attacks and uncertainty over funding. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #
A British soldier reads a newspaper as he rests aboard a Royal Air Force transport aircraft on its way back to Britain from Afghanistan, on December 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, Pool) #
Erin Vasselian, wife of fallen Marine Sgt. Daniel Vasselian, watches as a Marine Honor Guard removes her husband's casket from a hearse at St. Bridget Catholic Church in Abington, Massachusetts, on January 2, 2014. The 27-year-old Vasselian was killed in combat in Afghanistan on December 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) #
Afghan schoolchildren take lessons in an open classroom at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, on December 1, 2013. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan man sips tea during a cold winter morning at a livestock market in the outskirts of Kabul, on December 28, 2013. Hundreds of traders gather daily at the market to buy, sell and broker buffaloes, sheep, mutton and other cattle. Although the trade at this market remained strong, prices have increased significantly in the last 12 months. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan potter works on his pottery at his shop in Kabul, on December 19, 2013. The potter makes about 800 Afghani ($14) per day. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
US soldiers and service members with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) attend a religious ceremony on Christmas Eve at Bagram military base in Kabul, on December 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
A boy waits to receive winter aid, donated by Muslim Hands, a U.K.-registered international aid organization, in Kabul, on January 5, 2014. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail) #
Afghan fire fighters clear the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, on November 16, 2013. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan police arrive to secure the area after a car bomb detonated outside an ISAF civilian personnel compound in Kabul, on October 18, 2013. Police said the assault started at dusk when a car exploded near the gate of a compound, housing contractors from various countries, European diplomatic personnel and United Nations employees. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #
Bodies of Taliban militants are piled near weapons at the site of an attack in Shinwar District of Nangarhar province on January 4, 2014. Six Taliban suicide attackers launched an assault on a joint Afghan-NATO base in the east of Afghanistan, killing one NATO soldier during a prolonged firefight, officials said. (Omar Gul/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan National Army (ANA) female officers take their oaths before a training exercise at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC) in Kabul, on October 8, 2013. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
An Afghan pedestrian wears designer clothes as she makes her way to work along a street in downtown Kabul, on December 29, 2013. Despite Afghanistan being one of the poorest countries in the world there is a very small minority which has grown wealthy. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan children wait to visit a doctor in a mobile clinic of the French NGO, Medical Refresher Courses for Afghans (MRCA) in Darwazagi village of Kapisa province, on December 17, 2013. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #
Air Force Tech Sgt. David Brenhuber surprises his wife Tammy and daughter Alexis during the second quarter of a game between the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium, on November 17, 2013. Brenhuber recently returned from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and his family didn't know they would be reunited with him during the game. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY via Reuters) #
Thania Sayne of Effingham, Illinois, leans on the headstone at the grave of her husband, Army Sgt. Timothy D. Sayne, during the playing of taps at a nearby burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, on October 16, 2013, a day before what would have been their third wedding anniversary. Sayne, was 4 months pregnant with their second son, Douglas, when her husband was killed on September 18, 2011, in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) #
An Afghan girl tends to her sheep at a livestock market set up for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, in the center of Kabul, on October 14, 2013 (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #
An unmanned aerial vehicle departs Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, on November 12, 2013, to conduct a reconnaissance and surveillance mission over eastern Afghanistan. (U.S. Army/Capt. Peter Smedberg) #
Fazel Mohammad, 30, has his picture taken to register for the upcoming Afghan elections in a mosque, used as a mobile voter registration place in Kabul, on November 10, 2013. Fazel was injured in 2010 when an explosive device exploded next to him while he was out shopping. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #

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