Afghanistan earthquake intensifies emergency in country

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — This week’s devastating earthquake in Afghanistan is yet another emergency facing the country, which also faces its worst drought in 30 years and deep poverty. Afghanistan is also the country with the largest number of people at risk of famine in the world, and the country’s new Taliban rulers have seen mounting human rights abuses, a senior United Nations official said on Thursday.

UN Humanitarian Affairs Chief Martin Griffith and UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ramiz Arakbarov presented a grim picture of the hardships and dangers facing Afghanistan’s 38 million people.

They were speaking at a Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, scheduled for Wednesday ahead of a powerful earthquake in the east that Afghan state media said killed 1,000 people. The United Nations estimates the death toll lower, saying about 770 people were killed in Paktika and Khost provinces.

Hundreds more were injured and officials warned the toll could rise as Afghans are still digging through the rubble to recover more bodies on Thursday.

Griffith said in a video briefing that “Afghanistan’s political and economic landscape has changed dramatically” since the Taliban took power last August, and that U.S. and NATO forces are in the midst of a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. The final stage, “brought ruthless human beings to bring misery to the people of the country.”

“Afghanistan’s worst drought in nearly 30 years has affected three-quarters of the provinces, meaning below-average crop yields are expected to be harvested this year,” he said.

Griffith said 25 million people – more than half the population – lived in poverty, more than double the number in 2011, with 6.6 million at “emergency” levels. “This is the largest number of countries in the world that are at risk of similar famines,” he said.

Arakbarov, currently the top Afghan official who plans to visit the quake-hit area on Friday, said in a video briefing in Kabul that the quake was “another tragic reminder of the myriad dangers facing the Afghan people”.

With the emergence of Taliban armed opposition groups, the security environment “has become increasingly unpredictable” – “largely due to political exclusion” – leading to clashes, especially in Panjshir and Bagh, he said Lan Province. “Assaults by opposition forces against the de facto authorities doubled in May compared to April,” he said.

Arakbarov also pointed to the “precarious” human rights situation, including “credible allegations of killings, abuses, and other violations against individuals associated with the former Afghan government,” as well as Taliban attacks on alleged ties to the opposition and Allegations of opposition-linked individuals. It is also the main rival of the Taliban, the Islamic State group.

He also cited the Taliban’s growing restrictions on women and girls, as well as the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, opinion and expression, and the ongoing economic crisis. Afghanistan’s economy has contracted an estimated 30 to 40 percent since the Taliban took over, he said.

“Unemployment is likely to hit 40 percent this year — up from 13 percent in 2021 — and some projections suggest the poverty rate could climb to 97 percent by the end of 2022,” Arakbarov said. “What’s more worrying is that 82 per cent of households are now heavily in debt, and the deteriorating economy offers little chance of getting out of debt.”

As they travel across the country, Afghan families are grateful for humanitarian aid, but they want jobs, the opportunity to look ahead and the safety, which also means freedom of movement for women and men, he said.

Calling the country’s humanitarian response “complex and difficult,” Griffith said the formal banking system continued to block money transfers, with about 80 percent of aid organizations facing delays in transferring funds.

A second “hurdle” is that the Taliban across the country are increasingly looking to “play a role in selecting beneficiaries and delivering aid to those on their own priority lists,” he said. He added that it was difficult for aid organizations to Hiring Women, “There are more disruptions today than in previous months.”

The United Nations also faces a “66% funding gap – a staggering nearly $3 billion in the final six months of 2022,” Griffith said, stressing that “early funding and early action are critical to averting this winter’s catastrophe. important.”

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