Afghanistan is currently facing another humanitarian crises. The country was first hit by a severe flood which was then followed by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake. It is the deadliest earthquake to strike the country in two decades.
The flood occurred two days before the powerful earthquake. According to Dr. Muhammad Haroon Khatibi, Humanitarian Assistance Society (HAS), the devastating flood was ignored by the media with little to no coverage on it.
“Two days before the earthquake there was very severe flooding from the North-eastern part of Afghanistan down to the Southern Eastern part. Almost five hundred people died in that flooding and hundreds, or I could say thousands of houses were destroyed or partly destroyed. The media didn’t give any coverage.”
Devastation of the earthquake
The earthquake struck on Wednesday night, 22 June, near the city of Khost near the Pakistan border. Many homes in the area are made of wood, mud, and other vulnerable materials. However, most of the deaths reported come from the nearby Paktika province, said Khatibi. It is a rural and mountainous region where most of the homes have been reduced to rubble.
“Two provinces [were impacted] Paktika and Khost. Most of the casualties come from four districts. Gayan was the severest hit, Barmal and Zerok. Khost province was a district called Spera.”
Response from the international community
The international community has been slow to respond to the call of the Afghanistan people. The government has requested more aid. It is thought the slow response is a direct consequence of Afghanistan not allowing girls to attend schools. While the Western countries have been slow to respond, Khatibi praised Muslim countries and NGOs for their quick response.
“The Muslim organisations, for the first time, are coming in full power. Our Muslim brethren all over the world are taking part helping the people of Afghanistan. From Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, and others. Our neighbours like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Turkey have sent aid. They were there from the very early hours.”
The misleading West
There have been many pledges of donations from Western countries and reports on the devastation caused by the earthquake. These reports are false, and these donations are nothing more than a political move, said Khatibi.
“The Western organisations or the United Nation are misleading the people. I read one article that said seven hundred people have died. This is actually not true. They will announce that they will raise funds for this issue, but they want to use it as a political pressure on the government. This is a humanitarian issue. There are lots of people who are dying.”
Rescue missions have been hampered by the lack of infrastructure in the affected provinces. Khatibi blames this lack of infrastructure on America who occupied the lands of Afghanistan for twenty years.
“One of the results of the American occupation in the last twenty years is that we do not have proper infrastructure in those areas. The roads are so bad that we couldn’t rescue the injured people and take them to a hospital. There is no hospital. One should ask us where is NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and what were they doing in the last twenty years? They robbed us. They came here and robbed us of our uranium and lithium and all those things.”
Khatibi praised the contribution that has come from the Muslim community in South Africa. He has called on the international community to donate more aid but stressed that Afghanistan will not bend its knee to the Western world.