Taliban seek more aid for quake victims, pledge no interference

Published June 26, 2022
DOHA: A man secures relief supplies received for quake survivors from the Qatar Charity to be transported onto a C-130 plane at an air base on Saturday.—AFP
DOHA: A man secures relief supplies received for quake survivors from the Qatar Charity to be transported onto a C-130 plane at an air base on Saturday.—AFP

GAYAN: As vital medical supplies reached hospitals on Saturday in quake-hit areas of Afghanistan, the country’s Taliban government appealed for more international aid and pledged on Saturday they would not interfere with international efforts to distribute aid to victims.

The United Nations and several other countries have rushed aid to the affected areas, with more due to arrive over the coming days.

The UN’s migration agency said it had begun distributing thousands of emergency shelters and hygiene kits in affected areas, whereas China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin confirmed on Saturday that the Beijing would provide 50 million yuan ($7.5 million) in emergency humanitarian aid including tents, sheets, convertible beds to quake-hit Afghanistan. The first shipment of Chinese aid would reach Afghanistan on Monday by a charter flight.

$7.5m in Chinese assistance to reach Afghanistan tomorrow

The 5.9-magnitude quake struck hardest in the rugged east along the border with Pakistan, as people slept, killing over 1,000 and leaving thousands more homeless. Even before June 22 quake the country was in the grip of a hum­anitarian crisis, with aid flows and financial assistance severely curtailed since the Taliban’s return to power.

A spokesperson for the Paktika provincial government, Mohammad Amen Hozifa, said: “We call on all humanitarian organisations to help the people.”

However, aid organisations had complained in the past that Taliban authorities have tried to divert aid to areas and people that supported their hardline insurgency — or even seized goods to distribute themselves and claim the credit. But Khan Mohammad Ahmad, a senior official in hard-hit Paktika province, said international organisations helping relief efforts would not be interfered with.

“Whether it is WFP, Uni­cef or any other organisati­­on... the international community or the United Nati­ons... they will do the distribution by themselves,” said Khan. “The responsible pe­ople from the Islamic Emirate are here... our members will be always with them (to help),” he added, referring to the Taliban’s new name for Afghanistan.

The disaster poses a huge logistical challenge for the government, which has been cut off from much direct international assistance because of Western sanctions, deepening a humanitarian crisis in swathes of the country even before this week’s earthquake.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2022

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