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Aid starts arriving after entire villages destroyed in deadly quake



(Last Updated On: June 23, 2022)

Villagers rushed to bury the dead on Thursday and dug through rubble by hand in search of survivors following Wednesday’s deadly 6.1 magnitude earthquake that has killed over 1,000 people and injured hundreds more.

The quake, which struck just before 2am on Wednesday morning, while most people were asleep, has completely destroyed hundreds of houses and in some cases entire villages.

AP reported that in a village in Paktika, the men dug a row of graves as they tried to lay the dead to rest quickly in line with Muslim tradition.

In one courtyard, bodies lay wrapped in plastic to protect them from the rain that is hampering relief efforts for survivors.

The quake was Afghanistan’s deadliest in 20 years and officials have warned the casualty toll could rise.

NGOs have heeded the Islamic Emirate’s desperate appeal for help and aid is starting to make its way into the affected areas.

Among those who stepped in to help was the Bayat Foundation, which sent in an ambulance, medical supplies and a team of doctors, who will operate a mobile clinic in the worst hit areas to help the injured.

The World Food Program, Pakistan, Qatar, Iran and the United Nations have also dispatched assistance and aid along with other UN agencies.

Paktika residents meanwhile came together on Thursday and in conjunction with a charity association and local businesses established a collection of cash, food and water for those in need.

By mid-day these residents had already collected over 200,000 Afghanis for quake victims.

Afghanistan’s national cricket hero Rashid Khan also reached out to his fans and launched an appeal for donations on his social media pages.

In a rare move, the IEA’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, pleaded for help from the world on Wednesday. In a statement he called on the international community to send in help as soon as possible.

However, the full extent of the devastation among villages in remote mountainous regions was slow in coming to light.

The head of the Paktika provincial health department Dr Hekmatullah Esmat told Ariana News early Thursday that in Paktika alone, “hundreds of families have been killed”.

One survivor, who spoke to Ariana News, said he lost 18 members from his 24-member family in the quake.

The official death toll has however been put at almost 1,000 but officials have said this tally is expected to rise.

The earthquake struck just before 2am on Wednesday morning, when most people were asleep. Thousands of village houses collapsed, resulting in the high casualty toll.

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27% of Afghans regularly use tobacco: health ministry



(Last Updated On: May 31, 2023)

Marking World No Tobacco Day, Public Health Ministry officials said on Wednesday that 27% of Afghans regularly use tobacco, of which 2.7% are women.

Mohammad Hassan Ghiyasi, Deputy Minister of Policy and Planning of the Ministry of Public Health, said that tobacco kills eight million people worldwide every year and tobacco smoke is one of the main causes of air pollution, which causes dangerous diseases such as lung cancer and heart diseases.

Citing a national survey conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization, he added that nearly 20 percent of Afghan people use smokeless tobacco, mainly Naswar.

A number of other officials of the Ministry of Public Health also said that the number of patients with mouth cancer due to the use of tobacco has increased recently in the country.

“Tobacco not only causes respiratory or heart diseases, but also mouth cancer, which has been observed among young people who use Naswar and Paan (both smokeless tobacco) in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The number of people suffering from this disease is increasing day by day,” Haider Khan Haider, Director General of Disease Prevention and Control of the Ministry of Public Health, said.

Meanwhile, a representative of the World Health Organization said that 80% of tobacco cultivation and processing takes place in countries that are poor.

“The World Health Organization wants the honorable Ministry of Public Health to continue its technical support in the area of tobacco control, like other areas,” Naeemullah Safi, representative of WHO, said.

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Muttaqi urges foreign nations to refuse sanctuary to Afghan migrants



(Last Updated On: May 31, 2023)

The Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Tuesday that security in the country has been restored and Afghans should not leave the country under the pretext that their lives are in danger.

Speaking to family members of the 18 deceased migrants, whose remains were returned from Bulgaria last week, Muttaqi also called on the international community not to take in Afghans who say their lives are in danger.

“The world should not harm Afghanistan’s talents, talents and honor and should not expel them from this country under the name that their lives are in danger,” he said adding: “Don’t oppress them [Afghans] anymore, 20 years of war is enough, they have martyred countless Afghans.”

Muttaqi also expressed his condolences and promised the families of the deceased he would cooperate with them.

The bodies of the 18 migrants were returned to the country last week, three months after they were found dead in an abandoned van outside Sofia in Bulgaria.

Muttaqi raised the issue of the delay in repatriating the bodies and said sanctions were to blame. “The process faced many obstacles and the reason for the delay in the transfer of bodies was this issue (international sanctions).”

He said however that all Afghans are free to travel abroad but they should not use the system to secure asylum.

Family members of the deceased migrants meanwhile said that many young people are deceived by human traffickers who get them to Europe via dangerous routes.

These families called on the IEA to stamp out the issue and end human trafficking in the country.

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Qatar prime minister, IEA supreme leader hold secret talks



(Last Updated On: May 31, 2023)

The Qatari prime minister held secret talks with the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan this month on resolving tension with the international community, a source briefed on the meeting told Reuters.

The May 12 meeting in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar between Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Hibatullah Akhundzada is the first the reclusive IEA leader is known to have held with a foreign leader.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration was briefed on the talks and is “coordinating on all issues discussed” by the pair, including furthering dialogue with the IEA, the source told Reuters.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said other issues Sheikh Mohammed raised with Hibatullah included the need to end IEA bans on girls’ education and women’s employment.

The meeting represents a diplomatic success for Qatar, which has criticized IEA restrictions on women while using its long-standing ties to push for deeper engagement with Kabul by the international community.

Reuters reported that the source’s comments suggested that Washington supported elevating what have been unproductive lower-level talks in the hope of a breakthrough that could end the world’s only bans of their kind and ease dire humanitarian and financial crises that have left tens of millions of Afghans hungry and jobless.

The White House declined to comment on the talks. The State Department and the Qatar embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of the Islamic Emirate, told Ariana News that the purpose of the Qatari Prime Minister’s visit to Kandahar was to meet Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate.

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