Afghans left alone rescuing earthquake victims

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Those affected beg them to “come and help us”, as the UN assures that the Taliban has “made no formal request” for help

Rescue operations are still underway in Khost and Paktika provinces, the two areas of southeastern Afghanistan completely devastated by an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale. The Afghans are rescuing survivors and removing bodies from the rubble with their bare hands, as no aid or machinery has arrived to deal with the largest quake the country has suffered in the past two decades.

Authorities put the number of dead at at least a thousand and more than 1,500 injured, but it is possible that the final balance will increase significantly. Ground zero is Gayan district, in Paktika province, on the border with Pakistan, where “whole villages have been razed to the ground,” in the words of Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The heavy rains of the past few hours have made the work against the clock to find people alive even more complicated.

The emirate’s authorities on Wednesday asked the international community for help but assured the UN that “to date, the Taliban has not made a formal request to the international agency to mobilize rescue teams and obtain equipment from neighboring countries,” it said. the ‘number two’ of the mission in Kabul, Ramiz Alakbarov. Planes from Iran and Qatar carrying humanitarian aid have landed at the capital’s airport, according to local media, and Turkish authorities also showed their willingness to provide “any kind of aid” on Thursday. Turkey is a country with extensive earthquake experience, it has very good rescue teams and its legation is open in Kabul, so it could coordinate this arrival directly with the Taliban.

The earthquake has resurfaced the dilemma among international donors who, since the emirate’s arrival, have chosen to withhold aid to the de facto authorities because they do not trust them. “It is very worrying that the money is not reaching what is really needed and that is why international organizations are looking for other ways to directly help organizations working on the ground, without having to go between the Taliban, a terrorist and misogynistic group. Civilians are left in the middle of this pulse, hostages of everything and paying consequences,” explains Ana Ballesteros, senior researcher at Cidob (Barcelona Center for International Affairs), with extensive experience in the region.

According to Ballesteros, the current Afghan leaders “don’t care if the population is starving. They only pursue international legitimacy to receive investment and aid again. This earthquake will not soften their hearts.

The areas affected by the quake that struck the southeastern part of the country on Tuesday night are only 160 kilometers from the capital, but poor communication infrastructure, bad weather and lack of resources have left the victims isolated. The Defense Ministry announced the deployment of five helicopters and the government spokesman, Zabihula Mujahid, assured that “eight trucks of food” reached the damaged areas. In this country, more than a third of the people are unable to meet their basic needs and the economy is in a serious crisis, as foreign aid was frozen when the Taliban took power last summer. The heads of the emirate have urged the entire population in all of their interventions since the earthquake that this blockade of international funds will bring the entire population, but they are reluctant to make concessions in a government program that would shut down schools in the high school includes for girls.

Afghans suffer misfortune after misfortune and provinces such as Khost are a refuge for thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees who have arrived from neighboring Waziristan, on the other side of the border. Here the people live in mud and straw houses and the villages are far from clinics and hospitals, so the houses did not withstand the quake and evacuations to medical centers are very complex.

“We are asking the authorities of the emirate and the entire country to come to our rescue, we have lost everything and we don’t even have a tent to sleep in,” a survivor who identified himself as Hakimula told The Guardian newspaper. The BBC network’s envoys also had access to survivors who complained that “there are no blankets, no tents… there is no shelter. We need food and water. Everything has been destroyed, houses have been destroyed.”

Source: La Verdad

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