Turkish Red Crescent plans rebuilding in quake-hit Afghanistan

KABUL (Agencies): Afghanistan is still grappling with the fallout of the earthquake in June that displaced many. The Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay), which gave a lifeline with food aid in the aftermath of the disaster, quickly joined the reconstruction efforts.
Currently, agencies affiliated with the United Nations have started efforts to rebuild the Barmal district in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, which was among the severely affected locations. They also soon plan to move to Gayan, another hard-hit district, where the Turkish Red Crescent plans to rebuild 100 houses in two villages.
Mawlawi Ilyas Naseri, an official from the Afghan Red Crescent, says Gayan needs some 4,500 houses, while Barmal needed 1,500 new houses and Spera, another district, was in need of 500 to 600 new homes. Naseri says more than one family occupy each tent sent to the disaster zone and there was still a need for about 2,000 winter tents. “They also need new clothes ahead of winter,” he said. Naseri thanked Türkiye for “timely, abundant” aid in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. He said they also managed to control the cholera outbreak that occurred after the earthquake.
The Turkish Red Crescent is among the charities helping the earthquake victims, along with the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH). Türkiye has also sent “Kindness Trains” loaded with humanitarian aid.
Construction of new houses is set to be scheduled to start in October and will be completed in March. Farid Ahmad Ziya, head of the Turkish Red Crescent delegation in Afghanistan, said they were seeking to accelerate the work so people can have a warm shelter in winter. Ziya said they would also drill 10 water wells in the region to address the water needs of the population.
Deen Muhammad Sadif, a 25-year-old local who lost seven members of his family in the earthquake, said he lost his home and was living in a tent with the rest of his family, a total of 11 people. “We are trying to make a living by picking pine nuts from the mountains. We have nothing to endure the winter. We were told that our homes will be rebuilt, and we are looking forward to it. We hope the international community helps us,” he said.
Alafdin Giyanhan, a member of an extended family of 25 people who survived the disaster, says they took shelter in a tent. “Our most immediate need is a home and water. We salvaged blankets, clothes and other things and we only received a tent as aid,” she said. Giyanhan said they were trying to survive on rice, tomatoes and potatoes and people were in need of food as well.
Aid groups describe Afghanistan’s plight as one of the world’s most rapidly growing humanitarian crises. According to the United Nations, half the population now faces acute hunger, over 9 million people have been displaced and millions of children are out of school.
Previously, the UN and its partners launched a $4.4 billion funding appeal to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan in 2022. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also warned that millions of Afghans are on the verge of death, urging the international community to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets and jump-start its banking system.
Locals in earthquake-hit areas lament the inadequate humanitarian assistance from the international community and the Afghan Red Crescent. Access to affected areas is also limited, like in Gayan, which is situated around a river bed with a route marked with mountainous territory and poor road conditions.
Broken-down aid trucks en route to the disaster zone also slow down the aid delivery. Busy humanitarian activity in Gayan faded in recent days with few organizations still on the ground, while people appear to be accustomed to living in tents. The approaching winter remains the main concern for victims who say most tents cannot endure the cold weather.
Most tents are set up near collapsed houses of locals or in empty fields. Public restrooms’ collapse in the earthquake also adds to the hygiene woes of the local population. Earthquake victims complain of a lack of food at times, while most get through the day with only one meal. In central Gayan, most businesses are still shut down due to fatalities and damage, while only a few grocery stores remain open. Another challenge for survivors is power outages, while some turn to mobile solar power panels, which are only good to charge their phones or lighting up a bulb most of the time.