Earthquake survivors unsafe as aftershocks continue, senior Afghan official says

Published June 27, 2022
Afghan people walk through the debris of damaged houses after the recent earthquake in Wor Kali village in the Barmal district of Paktika province, Afghanistan, June 25. — Reuters
Afghan people walk through the debris of damaged houses after the recent earthquake in Wor Kali village in the Barmal district of Paktika province, Afghanistan, June 25. — Reuters

Aftershocks continue to be felt in the area hit by a deadly earthquake in Afghanistan last week and the area remains unsafe for survivors, a senior Afghan official said on Monday, as authorities continued to grapple with the disaster's fallout.

Afghanistan's most destructive earthquake in decades struck a remote southeastern region near Pakistan's border on Wednesday last week, killing at least 1,000 people, injuring 3,000 and destroying 10,000 homes.

Among the dead were 155 children, with nearly 250 children injured and 65 orphaned, the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) said.

"The place is not safe yet," Afghanistan acting Minister of Public Health Qalandar Ibad told a news conference in Kabul, adding that tremors continued to be felt in the area.

Aftershocks on Friday killed five people and injured 11. There are no reports of injuries in the later tremors reported by Ibad.

He said structures partially damaged in the main shock were not liveable and people had to live in tents.

On the other hand, he said the mercury would drop fast in the coming weeks in the mountains and this presented a fresh challenge for authorities.

"People do not have shelters — elders, children. ... We ask the international community to pay attention," he said.

The disaster is a major test for Afghanistan's hardline Taliban rulers, who many foreign governments have shunned because of concerns about human rights since they seized power last year.

In addition, sanctions on Afghan government bodies and banks have cut off most direct assistance for a country that was facing a humanitarian crisis, including famine, even before the 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck.

The United Nations and several other countries, including Pakistan, have sent aid to the affected area.

An Afghan aid agency appealed on Monday for cash for survivors of the earthquake, saying it had no room to store food and had enough tents, and that money for villagers to meet their particular needs would be most useful now.

"People ask for cash in the areas. They say they've received enough aid," the deputy head of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), Mullah Noordden Turaby, told journalists.

Turaby said the ARCS had no place to store food and they had enough tents for shelter.

He said cash would be more useful to survivors struggling to make ends meet and the ARCS could help distribute money if donors were worried about transparency.

The UN humanitarian office reported progress in its latest bulletin on Sunday, saying that a shortage of tents had been resolved and groups were distributing various aid including food, hygiene kits and cash.

However, it said several logistical problems remained including limited communications as a result of downed mobile phone networks and poor road conditions in some areas.

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