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Earthquake in Afghanistan kills more than 1000

01 July 2022

REUTERS

An Afghan carries bags of bread brought by a Taliban helicopter for earthquake victims in Gayan, Afghanistan, on 23 June

An Afghan carries bags of bread brought by a Taliban helicopter for earthquake victims in Gayan, Afghanistan, on 23 June

NGOs and the international community have begun distributing emergency aid to Afghanistan — but only in areas that they can reach — after it was struck by an earthquake last week.

The 5.9-magnitude earthquake, in which at least 1000 people are thought to have died, struck in the rugged south-east of the country, along the border with Pakistan, where there are many remote communities.

Ten thousand homes are believed to have been destroyed, in the region’s most destructive earthquake for decades.

Politically and diplomatically, Afghanistan is isolated, locked in the grip of international sanctions after last year’s return to power by the Taliban. It was already facing a humanitarian crisis, as a result of sanctions restricting financial assistance.

The Taliban authorities have pledged not to interfere with the distribution of emergency aid by charities to affected communities. The UN has launched an appeal to raise £90 million in aid for victims.

Aid is being flown in not only from the West, but from countries including Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

Christian Aid is distributing $100 (£81) in cash to each of the worst-affected families, through its local partner organisation on the ground in Afghanistan.

The cash support will be given to single mothers and those with disabled, elderly, or sick family members. In total, £100,000 will be used to help people in dire need of support, especially those in isolated villages and vulnerable households.

Christian Aid’s country manager for Afghanistan, Subrata De, said: “Our partner OCHR [Organisation for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Relief] has good local reach within the communities that have been affected by the earthquake. They are currently carrying out assessments to identify the most vulnerable people who need our help immediately.

“We will target those that haven’t received assistance from other agencies, and those who could face exclusion because of their situation, including single women and people with disabilities. We need to act quickly and in collaboration with the government and other emergency responders.”

The director general of OCHR, Ghulam Sadiq Safi, said: “As we start to bury the dead, and as the hunt for survivors continues, we must do all we can to support the people who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and, in many cases, their family members.

“Immediate needs are drinking water, food, and shelter. The cash we distribute will allow families to choose what they prioritise.”

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