The humanitarian disaster caused by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake in eastern Afghanistan, the country’s deadliest earthquake in decades, occurred at a difficult time for the Taliban-ruled country, which is currently in the throes of famine and economic crisis.
The quake comes as almost half the population, 20 million people, are suffering from acute hunger, according to a United Nations-backed report in May. It’s a situation aggravated by the Taliban’s seizure of power in August 2021, which prompted the US and its allies to freeze around $7 billion of the country’s foreign reserves and cut off international funding.
The situation has crippled an economy already heavily dependent on aid. Following the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, its economy went into freefall, with the World Bank forecasting in April that a “combination of declining incomes and rising prices has led to a serious deterioration in living standards.” of the homes”.
The Taliban held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to organize the transport of the wounded and material aid to the victims and their families, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund called the meeting at the country’s Presidential Palace to instruct all relevant agencies to send emergency relief teams to the affected area, Mujahid said in a tweet.
“Measures were also taken to provide cash assistance and treatment,” Mujahid said, adding that the agencies were “instructed to use air and ground transportation for the delivery of food, clothing, medicine and other necessities and for the transportation of the wounded”.
Najibullah Sadid, an Afghan water resource management expert, also said the quake coincided with heavy monsoon rains in the region, making traditional houses, many made of mud and other natural materials, particularly vulnerable to damage.
“The timing of the earthquake (in the) dark of night… and the shallow depth of 10 kilometers from its epicenter led to a higher number of casualties,” it added.