Afghan quake survivors without food and shelter as floods hamper relief effort

The disaster poses a huge logistical challenge for the Taliban government, which has isolated itself from much of the world by introducing hardline Islamic rule

Many survivors of Afghanistan’s deadliest earthquake in more than two decades were on Friday without food, shelter and water as they waited in devastated villages for relief workers to reach them, with rain compounding their misery.

Wednesday’s 5.9-magnitude quake struck hardest in the rugged east along the border with Pakistan, killing more than 1,000 and leaving thousands homeless.

“There are no blankets, tents, there’s no shelter. Our entire water distribution system is destroyed. There is literally nothing to eat,” 21-year-old Zaitullah Ghurziwal told an AFP team that reached his village in hard-hit Paktika province.

Communications have also been hit as the quake toppled mobile phone towers and power lines.

Officials say nearly 10,000 houses were destroyed, an alarming number in an area where the average household size is more than 20 people.

Save the Children said more than 118,000 children were impacted by the disaster.

– UN mobilises –

The aid-dependent country saw the bulk of its foreign assistance cut off the Taliban take Wednesday last August, and even before the United Nations’ disaster following the warning of a humanitarian crisis that threatened the entire population.

“The aid distribution will be transparent,” government spokesman Bilal Karimi told AFP, adding “many countries have supported us and stood with us”.

According to his office, refugee agency UNHCR has dispatched tents, blankets and plastic sheeting; the World Food Program has delivered food stocks for about 14,000; and the World Health Organization has provided 10 tonnes of medical supplies sufficient for 5,400 surgeries.

Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan’s emergency response teams were stretched to deal with the natural disasters that frequently strike the country.

“We hope that the International Community & aid agencies will also help our people in this dire situation,” tweeted Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official.

Afghanistan’s deadliest recent earthquake killed 5,000 in 1998 in the northeastern provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan.

Originally published as Afghan quake survivors without food and shelter as floods hamper relief effort

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