UN calls for $15m in urgent Afghanistan aid after deadly earthquake

More than 1,000 people are feared dead and 1,500 more wounded

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The UN is scrambling to raise money and respond to a devastating earthquake in eastern Afghanistan that has left more than 1,000 people dead and thousands more injured.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Khost, in a mountainous area near the border of Pakistan, with most of the damage seeming to have hit Paktika province.

Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN’s deputy special representative and resident humanitarian co-ordinator in Kabul, called for $15 million in emergency relief aid on Wednesday.

“We're concerned about not just non-food items and getting people into shelters and providing medical supplies, but also preventing waterborne diseases,” Mr Alakbarov said from his office in Kabul.

Mr Alakbarov said rescue efforts had been complicated by heavy rains and bad weather in the area.

The Taliban, which have controlled Afghanistan since the collapse of the western-backed government last August, have appealed for help from aid agencies.

“Unfortunately, last night there was a severe earthquake in four districts of Paktika province, which killed and injured hundreds of our countrymen and destroyed dozens of houses,” Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi wrote on Twitter.

“We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”

The UN said it has already shipped 10 tonnes of emergency medical supplies to the area, including 30 emergency health kits and 50 surgical health kits. In addition, Mr Alakbarov said 18 mobile health teams had been sent to Paktika province.

The earthquake comes at a time when more than half of all Afghans are already facing humanitarian crises.

“The situation in the country is very difficult, and this does add to the burden,” Mr Alakbarov said.

The Taliban's limited resources and precarious international standing mean the country is struggling to respond.

“We do not have the capacity, as I said, for taking people from under the rubble,” said Mr Alakbarov, “Such capacity does not exist.”

The UN representative said he was talking with regional partners to try secure the necessary heavy machinery.

Updated: June 23, 2022, 8:29 AM
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