Officials: Afghan earthquake adds to emergency in the country

Thursday, June 23, 2022
author picture Emma Richard
Video/image source : youtube
Original content created by staff

UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov and Martin Griffiths Address Security Council

The UN Special Representative for Afghanistan‚ Ramiz Alakbarov‚ and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator‚ Martin Griffiths‚ addressed the Security Council on the recent earthquake that killed at least 800 people. They observed a moment of silence in memory of those who died and were injured. Ramiz Alakbarov also gave a status report on human rights conditions in Afghanistan and cited the recent increase in attacks against the de facto authorities.

UNITED NATIONS‚ (AP) -- This week's devastating earthquake in Afghanistan adds to the nation's emergency situation. The country is currently facing its worst drought for 30 years as well as massive poverty. Senior U.N Officials stated Thursday that Afghanistan has the most vulnerable population to famine. They also warned of increasing violations of human rights by its new Taliban rulers. U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths‚ and Ramiz Alakbarov‚ the U.N. deputyspecial representative for Afghanistan presented a grim portrait of the perils and hardships facing Afghanistan's 38‚000‚000 people. The meeting was scheduled prior to Wednesday's earthquake in Afghanistan that killed 1000 people according to Afghan media. The U.N. estimated that around 770 deaths had occurred in Paktika‚ Khost and other provinces. Officials have also warned that hundreds more people have been hurt and more could be injured as Afghans continue to dig through rubble trying to find more bodies. Griffiths stated in video that the dramatic changes in Afghanistan's political‚ economic and social landscape after the Taliban took power in August last year were accompanied by unrelenting suffering for the nation's citizens. Three-quarters (or more) of Afghanistan's provinces have been affected by the worst drought for almost thirty years. This means that crop production will be lower than average in this year's harvest. Griffiths stated that 25 million people‚ or more than half of the world's population‚ live in poverty. This is more than twice the 2011 figure and includes 6.6 million living in emergency situations. He said that this is the most vulnerable country to famine. Alakbarov is the current top Afghan official and plans to travel to quake-hit regions on Friday. He said that the earthquake was another sad reminder of all the dangers faced by the Afghan people. According to him‚ the security situation is changing rapidly due to the appearance of armed opposition to Taliban groups. This was in part because there has been political exclusion. It also led to violence in Panjshir as well as Baghlan. He said that the number of de facto authorities attacked by armed opposition doubled between April and May. Alakbarov pointed out the precarious human rights situation. This includes credible allegations that killings and ill-treatment were committed against people associated with former Afghan government. The Taliban's growing restrictions on women‚ girls and rights to peaceful assembly as well as freedom of expression and opinion were also mentioned by him. He said that Afghanistan's economy has contracted by an average of 30% to 40% since the Taliban tookover. Alakbarov stated that it is possible for unemployment to reach 40% in 2019‚ up from 13% 2021. Some projections also suggest that poverty rates could rise as high as 97% before 2022. Alarmingly‚ 82% households are in debt and the economy is deteriorating. He said that Afghan families were grateful for the humanitarian assistance‚ but they also want to have jobs and a chance to see the future. They need safety‚ which includes freedom for both men and women to move freely. Griffiths described the response to the crisis in Haiti as complex and challenging. He said that the formal banking system still blocks financial transfers. Around 80% aid agencies are facing delays when transferring funds. He said that another obstacle is the fact that Taliban in Afghanistan are increasingly seeking to influence the selection of beneficiaries. They also want to channel assistance to those on their priority list. He said that aid organizations are struggling to find women workers and that there is more interference than ever before. Griffiths stated that the U.N. faces an unprecedented $66% funding gap‚ a nearly $3 billion shortfall in funding for the final six months of 2022. He stressed that it is crucial to get funding early and take action immediately to avoid a disaster this winter.