Afghanistan: Earthquake survivors decry ‘insufficient aid’ for food and shelter

Survivors of the recent earthquake in Herat’s Zindajan district, along with relief workers, on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction over the scarcity of food, clothing, and shelter.

Despite substantial contributions from numerous domestic organizations, companies, and foreign nations amounting to hundreds of millions of Afghanis, the residents of Zindajan district feel that they have not received adequate assistance.

The United Nations Aid Coordination Office has approved the allocation of $5 million from its emergency fund to help the quake-hit areas while the European Union announced 3.5 million euros to assist the earthquake-affected population. Moreover, a shipment of 100 tons of humanitarian aid arrived in Herat from Uzbekistan on Tuesday afternoon, which included food, clothing and first-aid equipment. Besides that, many citizens of Afghanistan have started fundraising campaigns outside the country through which they have succeeded in collecting tens of thousands of dollars to help those affected by the earthquake in Herat.

A representative from the “World Vision” organization highlighted that due to the absence of shelter, many residents in the district continue to endure their days and nights amidst the rubble, lacking access to essential provisions such as water and bread.

A significant portion of Zindajan district now lies in ruins, with another section serving as burial grounds, where the identities of many deceased individuals remain unknown. Notably, numerous graves in this area are marked with Taliban flags.

Few individuals in the district are willing to openly discuss the shortcomings in the aid distribution process.

Azizullah, a local resident, lamented, “We are also wandering, and we were wondering what the government is doing to help us now?”

Even aid organizations operating in the area acknowledge that homeless individuals are left to spend their nights and days on the ground.

“The casualties are truly extensive, and the assistance provided is insufficient to meet the needs of the people. Most of the homeless individuals are sitting on the ground without a place to stay,” remarked Mohammed Alam, an aid worker from the World Vision Foundation.

Efforts to locate missing persons remain ongoing, with local and non-professional rescue teams working tirelessly to extract survivors from the wreckage over the past four days.

Taliban flags hoisted on graves of victims of Herat earthquake in Zinda Jan district, Herat. Oct. 10, 2023

Among those rescued is twelve-year-old Nasser, who recounted, “We were inside our house when it collapsed on us.”

Mobile medical teams are also operating in the area to provide assistance to the rescued individuals.

Dr. Mohammed Ali, a physician on the scene, reported, “So far, we have received 30 wounded individuals and 20 deceased.”

In Zindajan, only the name remains intact, with some parts of the district devoid of any survivors following the catastrophic earthquake. The urgent demand in this area now centers on locating and aiding the victims.