Devastation of an already devastated country.
Eastern Afghanistan is this week experiencing the terrible consequences of a powerful earthquake that left at least 1,000 dead and 1,500 injured. It is the deadliest earthquake in the country in two decades.
The 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Paktika province, a region on the border with Pakistan, where many people live in poverty.
Afghanistan has been in a critical economic and social situation for decades and, since last August, it has been under the command of the Taliban.
“People are digging grave after grave,” said Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in Paktika, on Wednesday (22/6) after the earthquake.
He told AFP that the rain had worsened the situation in these hard-to-reach areas in the mountains and that “all the houses were destroyed. People are still trapped under the rubble.”
The country’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, has warned that the death toll is likely to rise in the coming days.
Horror in 24 hours
The Taliban government has asked for international help to deal with the disaster.
“We know that several districts in Paktika province are the most affected, but it also rains heavily and that makes it difficult to access these communities,” UNICEF representative in Afghanistan, Sam Mort, told the BBC.
Mort, who is in Kabul, confirmed that the Taliban government had contacted the United Nations to request assistance and work together to help the most affected communities.
She says resources “are very limited. The emergency response in communities is basically done by the hands of the people… This is a big challenge amidst the rubble, rain and mud.”
Mort said the earthquake could not have come at a worse time given the country’s precarious situation, especially after the Taliban took power.
The country “is facing the worst drought in 37 years. There is a crisis of chronic malnutrition. One million children under the age of 5 are at risk of severe malnutrition. There are preventable diseases, such as measles and diarrhea, that are spreading and that are taking away the children’s lives”, said the UNICEF representative.
“We have a country where 97% of the population is on the brink of poverty. People don’t have enough to eat. It’s a very, very challenging situation. And now, on top of that, the poorest rural community has to deal with an earthquake.” says Death.
Afghanistan is prone to earthquakes as it is located in a seismically active region.
In the last 10 years, more than 7,000 people have died in earthquakes in the country, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
data about afghanistan
- The oneandbã governs the country: Radical Islamists took control of Afghanistan last year, nearly 20 years after being overthrown by a US-led military coalition.
- There is a food crisis: more than a third of the population cannot meet their basic needs and the economy is in trouble as foreign aid and money ran out when the Taliban took power.
- Women’s rights are restricted: they are required to cover their faces in public and teenagers are not allowed to go to school.
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