“People are in desperate need of food and clean water,” Afghan Health Ministry spokesman Sharafat Zaman said, adding that officials have managed medicines for now, but dealing with those who have lost their homes will be a challenge.
“We are asking the international community and humanitarian organizations to help us with food and medicine, survivors may fall ill because they do not have suitable homes and shelters to live,” he said.
The disaster represents a major test for the leaders of the hardline Taliban movement in Afghanistan, who have been shunned by many foreign governments over human rights concerns since they seized control of the country last year.
Helping thousands of Afghans is also a challenge for countries that have imposed sanctions on Afghan government bodies and banks, cutting off direct aid, leading to a humanitarian crisis even before the earthquake.
The United Nations and many other countries have rushed to the affected areas, and more are due to arrive in the coming days.
The Afghan Taliban administration has called for the reversal of sanctions and the unfreezing of billions of dollars worth of central bank assets stashed in Western financial institutions.
In Kabul, the hospitals most accustomed to treating war victims have opened their wards to earthquake victims, but the majority of people remain in quake-ravaged areas.
Hazrat Ali, 18, in the village of Wor Kali, said: “Our homes are destroyed, we don’t have a tent… There are a lot of children with us. We have nothing. Our food and clothes… Everything is under the rubble.” The Barmal region is the worst affected.
He said, “I have lost my brothers, and my heart is broken. Now we are only two. I loved them so much.”
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