‘We Have Nothing’: Afghan Quake Survivors Despair Over Recovery

‘We Have Nothing’: Afghan Quake Survivors Despair Over Recovery

GYAN, Afghanistan – As early as Friday morning in his village, Abdul Qadir dug up the rubble of his family home and found a small sack of flour buried under a pile of wood and mud.

Like many people in this desolate part of eastern Afghanistan, the little bag was the only food his family had, before a devastating earthquake last week destroyed half the village.

For almost a year after the Taliban seized power and the country was plunged into an economic crisis, the villagers could no longer afford the firewood they once collected and sold for a few dollars a day. Food prices doubled in the local market. He borrowed 500,000 afghanis – more than $ 5,000 – from vendors until they refused to lend him more.

Then on Wednesday, the mountains around him erupted in a violent riot that toppled the walls of his home and killed six members of his family. He was in deficit after seeing the remains of his house.

“This house was the comfort we still have,” said Mr Qadir, 27. “We have no way to get a loan, no way to get money, no way to rebuild. Nothing.”

Last week’s quake wreaked havoc in this remote, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday. About 1,000 people were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed.. It was a devastating blow to the region, which has suffered for decades, and any respite from the end of the war and the Taliban’s takeover of the country was to be hoped for.

The people of Gyan District saw little benefit from the American era in Afghanistan. It is one of the poorest places in the country, and people live on a small amount of money each autumn to collect firewood and cut pine. Then, as now, the government was far away, and families had to depend on each other when difficult times came.

The Taliban regime has not changed anything here. Although government officials are trying to bring relief stores to the area after the quake, it will not have a lasting effect on the growing frustration of daily life, or the mass deaths.

During the 20-year-long war between the Taliban insurgency and the previous Western-backed government, residents were caught in a fierce battle that tore through villages in this part of Afghanistan. Pakistani shelling – targeting Pakistani militants who have taken refuge along Afghanistan’s eastern border – has rained down from the sky, killing civilians and destroying homes. With repeated floods, hailstorms and deadly earthquakes in the fabric of life here, nature has unleashed its own tyranny.

After the Taliban seized power, many residents hoped that the end of the war would bring some relief. Instead, The shelling by Pakistan continues. When the Taliban took over, the militants came to the area. A serious economic crisisWith international sanctions and millions of dollars in foreign aid virtually gone overnight, people’s incomes have plummeted and food prices have risen. Today, about 39 million people in the country are facing difficulties. Deadly levels of food insecurityAccording to the World Food Program.

For many in these remote villages, the devastation was a heartbreaking reminder that despite the end of two decades of war, violence and hardship have not ended.

“We were very happy that the war was over, we thought our lives would be better – but because of the economy, the situation is now more dangerous than the war,” said Sher Muhammad, 60. But we are dying every day because we have no food to eat.

As he spoke, another slight jolt shook the dim, gray ground beneath him.

Wednesday morning’s quake completely destroyed Mr Muhammad’s home in the village of Sitara Gyan in Gyan District – the worst-hit area. Without food or shelter, he and his family moved to the nearby village of Azur Kalai to live with relatives. In many ways, the home of relatives was his last remaining lifeline.

For years, he and three brothers lived together, collecting firewood on the backs of their donkeys and distributing money while working as laborers in other villagers’ fields. It was a simple life, but enough to buy flour, rice, cooking oil and other necessities for the family. They even saved enough to expand their shared home and send Mr. Muhammad’s two sons to school in the provincial capital.

But after the economy collapsed after the Taliban took over last August, all of a sudden each brother could barely earn enough to feed his children – very little sharing with each other. Unable to provide more than stale bread and tea for his family, Mr. Muhammad called his 22-year-old and 20-year-old son home from school to sell whatever he could in the nearby bazaar to make ends meet.

“Their future is over,” he said. “If they get an education they can find a good job. But now with the economy, they have given up everything – I doubt they will ever be able to continue their education.”

On Friday morning, Mr Muhammad Ajur joined hundreds of people gathered around a temporary relief distribution site in Kalai village, where international humanitarian organizations and Taliban personnel had set up tents to arrange and distribute food aid. ۔

As people waited for their families to register for help, military helicopters carrying Taliban personnel roared overhead as a truck loaded with goods entered the village from the capital, Kabul. gone. It took more than 24 hours for many vehicles to walk 150 miles on unpaved roads, which were covered with bushes, damp river beds, beige mud brick houses that stretched along the hill and a patchwork of agriculture which Has made the earth a blanket. Valleys in the middle.

Two days after the quake, in an interview with the New York Times, most residents said they had not received any assistance from the government. Instead, they relied heavily on each other immediately after the quake, as they did during the crises under the previous Western-backed government.

Villagers from neighboring districts, whose homes were intact, led efforts to rescue those trapped under the rubble – digging a little more with their bare hands – and buying 20-meter white shrouds for the hundreds who died. He drove the seriously injured in his small Toyota Corolla to the hospital hours away. Relatives from across the province brought bread, rice and plastic bags to build temporary shelters. Surprised residents are getting restless from what they could find in the rubble of their homes: a bag of rice here, a bottle of tea there.

At a winding river from a relief distribution site, 25-year-old Sharif began sifting through the rubble of his family home around 4:30 a.m. Friday, looking for any kitchen utensils and food Could find Two hours later, when he pulled out his freezer from the remains of one room, the wall of the other room collapsed – dragging dozens of his neighbors who feared he was trapped under the rubble.

Despite all this, he considered himself lucky. His entire family survived the quake on Wednesday when he woke up to the first tremors and told everyone to flee to the courtyard – a lesson his parents had learned while growing up in the mountains where nature Had waged war on its own people.

“Many times they gathered us and told us not to leave our rooms if it was raining or hail, to be safe inside but to go outside if the ground started shaking because mud and wooden walls could fall,” he said. ۔

But as she walked through the rubble, the gratitude she felt for protecting her family was fueling frustration over what they would do next.

For two years, he barely earned enough to eat when his father was barred from going to Saudi Arabia for work due to the corona virus epidemic – a source of income that kept his family afloat for decades. Maintained. Even after the easing of these restrictions, the Taliban’s occupation increased the cost of obtaining visas beyond what their father could afford. Millions of Afghans are seen leaving. Country to find employment.

He and his brothers tried to make up for lost income by selling firewood, but the economy deteriorated and they could not find anyone to buy it. The shopkeepers stopped giving them food on credit. He stopped spending too much time at home. She said her heart was not broken by her children crying and begging for food.

After the quake, he built a small tent for his family from Tarpus, which his relatives brought to a nearby district. Next, he found two cows and three goats, while his wife and children were sorting through a few pots and pans pulled out of the rubble.

“After this earthquake, I completely lost control.” Sharif’s wife, Ali Marjana, 22, said as she sat on the ground in her makeshift home.

“I can’t explain it. We have nothing to eat, no money, no way to find money,” he added. “Look at us, we’re living like animals now.”

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