GAYAN, Afghanistan –
An aftershock took more lives Friday and threatened to pile even more misery on an area of eastern Afghanistan reeling from a powerful earthquake that state media said killed 1,150 people this week.
Wednesday’s magnitude 6 quake struck a remote, mountainous region already grappling with staggering poverty at a time when the country as a whole is spiraling deeper into economic crisis after many countries pulled back critical financing and development aid in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover.
That aid had been keeping the country afloat, and its withdrawal left millions unable to afford food and further strained already struggling medical facilities. Nearly half the population of 38 million cannot meet their basic food needs, while some civil servants, like doctors, nurses and teachers, weren’t paid for months because the Taliban government is unable to access frozen foreign reserves. Salary delays continue throughout the public sector.
Afghanistan’s international isolation is also complicating relief efforts since fewer aid organizations have a presence in the country, and many governments are wary of putting money in the Taliban’s hands.
Aid groups lament that means they have to pay local staff with bags of cash delivered by hand.
Aid organizations like the local Red Crescent and UN agencies like the World Food Program have sent food, tents, sleeping mats and other essentials to families in Paktika province, the epicenter of the earthquake, and neighbouring Khost province.
Still, residents appeared to be largely on their own to deal with the aftermath as their new Taliban-led government and the international aid community struggle to bring in help. The shoddy mountain roads leading to the affected…