Afghanistan is ‘hurtling towards collapse’, warns UN

Image copyright AFP Image caption Hundreds of people died when a powerful earthquake struck on 28 October Afghanistan is “hurtling towards collapse” while aid workers are struggling to cope with more earthquakes and local…

Afghanistan is 'hurtling towards collapse', warns UN

Image copyright AFP Image caption Hundreds of people died when a powerful earthquake struck on 28 October

Afghanistan is “hurtling towards collapse” while aid workers are struggling to cope with more earthquakes and local governance lags behind, the UN has warned.

Almost 70% of the country needs humanitarian help and 20% is short of basic goods, the UN Humanitarian Country Team said.

At least 30 people were killed last week when a quake in Badakhshan province hit a remote part of the country and rescuers still struggle to reach communities.

The UN has long warned that Afghanistan’s roughly 30 million people face a long and precarious future.

Severely under-developed infrastructure means the country cannot cope with poverty and natural disasters. More than three million people are living in “extreme poverty” and hundreds of thousands of homes are still unsafe after one of the worst earthquakes in history, which killed 2,000 in October 2017.

More than half of the country has experienced an average of one earthquake every four years over the past 70 years, according to the UN.

Images from the latest quake show how buildings were flattened, and people wandered around the roads looking for missing family members.

‘Outrageous situation’

Oxfam says five million people are short of shelter. There is no sanitation, basic health facilities and poor sanitation.

That assessment comes after aid groups warned of the danger for almost 100,000 people living in the Boro Quoran District in Badakhshan, nearly 40km (25 miles) from the quake’s epicentre.

The UN said it hoped some of the relief work would be finished by the end of the month, but operations would need to be paused while the UN assesses what more needs to be done.

Aid groups say they have given many shelters to people that were destroyed in the earthquake. They also set up health clinics.

But it’s unclear how many people in the district have been reached by humanitarian groups.

Civilians are being forced to flee their homes in fear of more quakes, but a ceasefire with the Taliban has allowed the authorities to focus on responding to those in need.

“Although the emergency response is understandably still at its infancy, the urgency should not overshadow the long-term needs,” the UN Humanitarian Country Team said.

“Outrageous current levels of vulnerability and underdevelopment cannot be overcome by emergency assistance alone.”

It added: “Unless action is taken, the situation will quickly become untenable.”

‘Disaster risk is worse than ever’

World Food Programme says more than 10 million people, or 12% of Afghanistan’s population, face hunger

Water services are becoming increasingly dependent on outside help, and the UN adds that over 1,000 wells are dry

Shortages of money, medicine and fuel are putting lives at risk, the UN warns

Over 3,300 aid workers are working in Afghanistan

About 15% of children are malnourished

Estimates show that an average earthquake frequency of every two years since 1900 has hit Afghanistan every three years – although death tolls are typically much lower

Image copyright AFP Image caption In Dirbakhshan a building that used to be a hospital is now just walls following an earthquake

Lack of leadership could be “triggering” social and political tensions in several of Afghanistan’s 47 provinces, the UN said.

The country risks becoming a failed state, it added.

“What the people of Afghanistan want is better governance, especially in areas affected by disaster risk, but where decisions are made by multi-party government without much transparency,” said Jennice Endo, head of the UN’s humanitarian aid coordination office in Afghanistan.

Photo caption Devastation: A new sign was put up at the Khushali school that was badly damaged in the earthquake

Badakhshan saw the worst of the earthquakes as 2.2 magnitude tremors, which killed two people and left 23 others missing, according to the Afghan meteorological agency.

Afghanistan and its neighbours all suffered damaging aftershocks.

India, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan all felt strong tremors.

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