UN Refugee Agency Rushes Aid to Afghan Quake Victims

The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said Friday it has rushed tons of relief items and support staff to southeastern Afghanistan, where a deadly earthquake hit Wednesday. 

In a statement, the UNHCR said it has dispatched supplies that include 600 tents, 4,200 blankets, 1,200 water containers, 1,200 buckets, 1,200 plastic sheets, 600 kitchen sets and 1,200 solar lamps to the area. The agency said the supplies were sent from Kabul on Thursday in nine trucks. 

On Wednesday, a 5.9 earthquake killed more than 1,000 people in eastern and southeastern provinces bordering Pakistan. The worst-hit provinces are Paktika and Khost. Officials say an aftershock Friday killed more people. 

Another U.N. agency, the children’s fund, UNICEF, said Friday its teams were on the ground within hours of the quake.  

Speaking from the capital, Kabul, UNICEF Afghanistan representative Mohamed Ayoya said UNICEF is providing emergency medicine and medical supplies, as well as kits to treat children with diarrhea and to help prevent the spread of cholera, a high risk because of damaged water systems and limited hygiene. 

The U.N. announcements come as Afghan disaster ministry spokesman Mohammad Nassim Haqqani told the Reuters news agency the country does not have enough supplies — particularly drugs and other medical supplies — to deal with the aftermath of such a massive earthquake. 

Haqqani told Reuters the search for survivors of the quake had ended just 48 hours after it struck, without detailing why the search was called off so quickly. 

The U.S. says the earthquake was the worst to hit the country in the last 20 years. Officials say in some areas it buried entire families, as it took place while many people were sleeping in mud houses in one of Afghanistan’s most remote regions.  

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters.  


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