UN requests $15 mln for ‘immediate needs’ in quake-hit Afghanistan; Pakistan contacted for help

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 22 (APP): The United Nations said Wednesday that the ‘immediate needs’ for the quake-devastated Afghanistan were assessed at $15 million, and Pakistan was among the countries contacted for help to meet the dire situation.

“I had a meeting today with the Embassy of the Pakistan here on the grounds, they’ve been extremely generous assisting on a number of humanitarian matters prior to the earthquake, actually, we have seen a lot of generosity from that side coming into Afghanistan throughout this year,” U.N. Deputy Special Representative to Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov told reporters in New York via video link.

Pakistan, he said, has also expressed a willingness to be informed of any additional needs, and “they’re on standby in the meantime”.

During the meeting, Alakbarov said, Pakistani diplomats also informed him about the relief materials already being sent.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram called on the world community to rise “above political considerations”, and help Afghanistan deal with this tragedy.

Alakbarov, the deputy UN envoy, also said the UN does not have search and rescue capabilities in Afghanistan and Turkey is “best positioned” to provide it.

“We spoke about it with the embassy of Turkey here on the ground and they’re waiting for the formal request,” he said. “We will be able to make such request only after the discussion with the Taliban authorities and based on what is the reality on the ground.”

The death toll from an earthquake in Afghanistan hit 1,000, disaster management officials said, with more than 600 injured and the toll expected to grow as information trickles in from remote mountain villages.

Alakbarov – speaking from Kabul – said that while the Taliban had not yet formally requested help from international search and rescue teams, the United Nations had already sounded out countries in the region to see “if they would be willing and available to deploy such capacity.”

“Our teams do not have specific equipment to take people from under the rubble. This has to rely mostly on the efforts of the de-facto (Taliban) authorities, which also has certain limitations in that respect,” he said.

Alakbarov said it was unclear how well positioned the Taliban were to operate and deploy their to the mountainous areas hit by the earthquake.

The United Nations has shipped about 10 tonnes of essential medical supplies to the region and deployed 20 medical health teams, he said, adding that a rapid assessment of the situation is being conducted and at least $15 million is required immediately – a figure that will likely rise in coming days.