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The Taliban, isolated and without resources, are appealing for international assistance for the Afghan earthquake emergency

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Afghanistan’s emergency response teams are working around the clock this Thursday to reach and assist victims of the earthquake that struck the country’s southeastern edge early Wednesday. More than a thousand people were killed by the quake, according to a preliminary tally that could increase given the seriousness of the condition of many of those injured and the fact that many of the affected areas are inaccessible in mountainous terrain. Added to this are the lack of resources in the Central Asian country, which has been ruled by the Taliban since August last year, and the heavy rains that have hit the region in recent days. Kabul has asked the international community for help in dealing with the emergency. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stated that the organization is already mobilized and working on the ground. Afghan Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan announced 10 million euros (1,000 million Afghans) in aid to the victims this Thursday after an emergency meeting at Kabul’s presidential palace.

The 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck a poor, inaccessible rural area on the border with Pakistan in the early hours of Wednesday morning. In the midst of a severe economic and humanitarian crisis, the country of Afghanistan plunged into a new tragedy, a tough challenge for the Taliban, 10 months after regaining power after the withdrawal of US-led international forces. It is the deadliest earthquake to hit Afghanistan in two decades. In the worst-hit province of Paktika, more than 1,000 people have died and 1,500 have been injured, according to the authorities. Those numbers would not include victims in neighboring Jost, the epicenter of the quake. Kabul fears the death toll will rise because many people are also trapped under the rubble of their collapsed homes.

“It is very difficult to get information from the field due to the bad network [telefónica]”, said the head of the information and culture department of the province of Paktika, Mohammad Amin Huzaifa this Thursday. “Access to the affected sites is difficult,” Huzaifa reported, especially since the area was also affected by flooding from heavy rains. The intense storm has caused landslides that have slowed rescue efforts and damaged telephone and power lines.

The Taliban government, which has a very limited number of helicopters to take part in the emergency, has mobilized the army. However, their financial resources are very limited after the freezing of billions of assets abroad and the abrupt interruption of Western international aid, which has been present for the last 20 years and has only returned in small trickles since the fundamentalists returned to power .

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The United Nations has reported that at least 2,000 houses were destroyed, each occupied by around seven or eight people. The regime in Kabul has said it is doing its best and has appealed to the international community, which has so far refused to recognize it, and to humanitarian organizations for help. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has assured that the UN is “fully mobilized” to assist Afghanistan by sending first aid teams and delivering medicines and food.

The affected population is in dire need of shelter due to the rains and unseasonably cold weather this season, but also food aid, water, hygiene and sanitation, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA, in its acronym). in English) . The Taliban announced Thursday that they had received two planes loaded with aid from Iran and one from Qatar. Eight truckloads of food and first aid supplies have arrived in Paktika province from neighboring Pakistan.

The European Union said on Wednesday it was ready to “provide emergency aid”. For its part, the United States has said it is “deeply saddened” and said it is reviewing its humanitarian “response options.”

The Afghan health system is also seriously under-resourced and under great pressure. “Our country is poor and has no resources. It’s a humanitarian crisis; it’s like a tsunami,” said Mohammad Yahya Wiar, director of the hospital in Sharan, the capital of Paktika. Afghanistan is frequently struck by earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies at the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. These disasters can be particularly destructive due to the low level of resistance from rural Afghan homes.

The deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan’s recent history, killing around 5,000 people, occurred in May 1998 in the provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan in the northeast of the country.

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Source elpais.com

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