SHARANA (Pajhwok): Earthquake-affected families in Barmal, Giyan and Zerok districts of southeastern Paktika province say they have received some assistance, but promises made to them about basic works remain unfulfilled.
However, officials say the quake survivors have been provided with cash, food and non-food items worth millions of afghanis besides construction of houses.
About six months ago, a powerful earthquake struck Paktika’s Barmal, Giyan, and Zerok districts, killing 379 people and injuring 1,657 others. Some 11,625 houses were destroyed by the tremor.
Most of the earthquake victims in these districts still live in tents. They say their lives have become difficult after the deadly quake and they are yet to receive basic assistance like schools, hospital and roads.
Omar Jan, a resident of Giyan district, told Pajhwok Afghan News the earthquake victims were promised that new houses would be built for them and they would be provided necessary materials before winter, something yet to happen.
“We were promised that concrete houses would be constructed for us. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, surveyed 1000 houses in Giyan district and set aside $6.5 million for their construction, but this didn’t happen.”
He said most of the earthquake survivors, including him, still lived in tents and led a difficult life in the camp. The air has turned cold and many children are suffering from pneumonia and other diseases”.
Noor Mohammad, another resident, also complained the earthquake victims had not been given basic assistance and aid organizations had ceased their operations and had left the district.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News: “The promise of building houses for us remains unfulfilled. We are still living in tents in this cold weather.”
Raza Khan, a resident of Barmal district, said houses had been constructed for them and they had received enough other assistance, but now they were expecting basic infrastructure projects.
“The roads of our district are in very bad condition, we lack schools and hospitals. We request the government and institutions to pay attention to these areas as well.”
However, Paktika Disaster Management Director Maulvi Matiullah Mansoor said three residential camps had been built in the earthquake affected areas and the affected families had been provided cash, food and non-food aid worth millions of afghanis.
He told Pajhwok: “Cash assistance amounting to 110 million afghanis has been distributed to the earthquake victims, 40 million afghanis by the government and 70 million afghanis by NGOs. Around 1000 tons of flour, cooking oil, pulses and other food items and non-food items including blankets, dishes and others have also been given to the affected families.”
He said several organizations had promised to construct 2,000 houses for the affected families in Giyan and Barmal districts and more than half of them had been built.
“Construction work of 1125 houses has been completed in Barmal district. Of the houses, 25 were built by Rashid Khan Foundation and the rest by UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In addition, construction of 65 houses is underway by the IOM in Giyan district.”
When asked why organizations had suspended their activities the earthquake-hit areas, he said construction works could not be done in cold weather and they had to cease their activities.
He said if Giyan residents had identified land for the township on time, its construction would not have been delayed. He said construction of houses in Barmal district neared completion.
Mansoor informed efforts were underway resolve problems of those living in camps. Till now, he said, Turkish charity Humanitarian Relief Foundation or IHH had announced 26.7 million afghanis in aid to them and talks were ongoing with other organizations.
Barmal, Giyan and Ziruk are mountainous districts. Residents of these areas were already facing problems, but the earthquake exacerbated their situation.