Afghanistan earthquake: ‘What do we do when another disaster strikes?’ Afghans are facing crisis on all fronts

Afghanistan earthquake: ‘What do we do when another disaster strikes?’ Afghans are facing crisis on all fronts

The slow response, due to international sanctions and decades of mismanagement, concerns people working in the humanitarian field, such as Obaidullah Bahir, lecturer in transitional justice at the American University of Afghanistan. “It’s a very patchwork, band-aid solution to a problem that we need to start thinking about in the mid to long term… What do we do when[another disaster]hits?” He told CNN over the phone.

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck near the Pakistani border town of Khost early Wednesday and the death toll is expected to rise as several houses in the area were poorly damaged by wood, mud and other materials. ,

Humanitarian agencies are mobilizing in the area, but it may take days for aid to reach the affected areas, which are among the most remote areas in the country.

UNICEF Afghanistan’s communications chief Sam Mort told CNN that the critical aid sent to help affected families is expected to reach villages only by Saturday. According to ICRC’s Asia Pacific spokeswoman Anita Dullard, the teams deployed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are yet to arrive.

“The challenges we are facing are, first and foremost, geographical, logistics challenges because this area is very remote and rural and mountainous. Just yesterday we had a lot of rain and there is a combination of rain and earthquake in some areas. Landslides happen, making it difficult for roads to pass,” UNICEF’s Mort told CNN from Kabul.

The earthquake was accompanied by heavy monsoon rain and wind between June 20 and 22, hampering search efforts and helicopter travel.

As medics and emergency workers from across the country try to reach the site, aid is expected to be limited as several organizations were pulled out of the aid-dependent country after the Taliban came to power in August last year.

Those that are left are stretched thin. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it had mobilized “all resources” from across the country, with teams providing medicine and emergency aid on the ground. But, as a WHO official put it, “the resources here are enormous, not just for the region.”

The international community’s hesitation to deal with the Taliban and the group’s “very messy bureaucracy where it becomes difficult to get information from one source” has led to communication gaps in rescue efforts, says Bahir – who is also the founder of aid group Save the Hunger. From Afghan – said.

“At the core of everything is how politics has translated into this communication gap, not only between countries and the Taliban, but also between international aid organizations and the Taliban,” he said.

Bahir gives an example of how he is serving as a media of information with the World Food Program and other aid organizations, informing them that Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry is seeking assistance from humanitarian organizations in the worst-affected areas. Offering air support for

Meanwhile, some people spent the night sleeping in temporary outdoor shelters as rescue teams searched for survivors with torches. The United Nations says 2,000 homes are believed to have been destroyed. Photos from the worst-hit Paktika province, where most of the deaths have occurred, show homes reduced to dust and rubble.

Officials say that relief is being provided to the affected areas.

According to the official Twitter account of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense, the government has so far distributed food, tents, clothing and other supplies to the quake-hit provinces. Medical and relief teams deployed by the Afghan government are already present in the quake-hit areas and are trying to transport the injured to medical facilities and health centers by land and air.

‘A carpet that approves of a whole nation and a whole people’

Although the economic crisis in Afghanistan has been brewing for years, the result of conflict and drought, it plunged to new depths following the Taliban takeover, which forced the United States and its allies to freeze nearly $7 billion of the country’s foreign reserves and Inspired to cut internationally. funding.

The US has not had a presence in Afghanistan after the hasty withdrawal of its troops and the fall of the previous US-backed Afghan government. Like almost all other countries, it does not have official ties with the Taliban government.

The move has crippled the Afghan economy and sent many of its 20 million people into severe hunger crisis. Millions of Afghans are out of work, government employees have not been paid, and the price of food has gone up.

A child stands near a house damaged by an earthquake in the Bernal district of Paktika province on June 23.

Bahir says the sanctions are “hurting us so much” that Afghans are struggling to send money to families affected by the earthquake.

“The fact that we barely have a banking system, the fact that we haven’t printed or brought new currency into the country in the last nine to 10 months, our assets are frozen … These sanctions don’t work, ” They said.

He continued: “The only ban that makes moral sense is a ban targeted at specific individuals, rather than sanctioning the whole country and the entire people.”

UNICEF’s Mort told CNN, “While the sanctions have hit the country a lot, there are exemptions for humanitarian aid, so we’re getting it to help those most in need.”

The Taliban “is not stopping us from delivering anything like that, on the contrary they are enabling us,” she said.

Experts and officials say the most urgent urgent needs include medical care and transportation for the injured, shelter and supplies for the displaced, food and water and clothing.

An Afghan man searches for his belongings among the ruins of an earthquake-damaged house.

The United Nations has distributed medical supplies and sent mobile health teams to Afghanistan – but warned it lacks search and rescue capabilities.

Bahir told CNN on Wednesday That the Taliban were only able to send six rescue helicopters “because when the United States was leaving most of the planes were disabled, whether those belonging to the Afghan military or to them.”

According to Mohammad Ali Saif, a regional government spokesman, Pakistan has offered to help cross the border into its northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and allow wounded Afghans to come to the visa-free country for treatment.

“400 injured Afghans have gone to Pakistan for treatment this morning and a stream of people is on, this number is expected to increase by the end of the day,” Saif told CNN.

Pakistan has placed a strict limit on Afghans entering the country from across the land border since the Taliban came to power.

Robert Shackleford, Yong Jeong, Jesse Yeung, Sofia Saifi, Mohammed Shafi Kakkar and Aliza Kasim contributed to this report.

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