UK investigating Hamas’ claim that British hostage killed in Gaza

UK investigating Hamas’ claim that British hostage killed in Gaza
UK investigating Hamas’ claim that British hostage killed in Gaza

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - ‘Completely helpless’: Afghanistan’s north struggles to get aid after deadly floods

KABUL: Survivors of the deadly flash floods that ripped through northern Afghanistan were still struggling without basic aid on Sunday, as the official death toll rose to over 300.

Heavy rains on Friday triggered flash floods across at least seven provinces, including Baghlan, Ghor, Badakhshan and Takhar, injuring more than 1,600 people and destroyed about 2,600 houses, according to the latest data from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees.

Many people remain missing and livestock were wiped out as survivors picked through muddy, debris-littered streets and damaged buildings over the weekend, while authorities and humanitarian agencies deployed aid and rescue workers.

“All available resources are being mobilized, and relevant ministries and agencies are actively engaged in delivering urgent aid,” Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, Afghanistan’s deputy minister for economic affairs, told survivors in Baghlan province on Sunday, as he reassured “unwavering support” from the Taliban-led government “until their lives are restored to normalcy.”

But some people in the province, which bore the brunt of the deluges, said that aid has yet to reach them.

“We haven’t received any support from the government or aid organizations yet. Everyone comes and asks us questions, then they go back,” Ghulam Nabi, who is from the province’s Burka district, told Arab News in a phone interview.

“We lost our houses and our lives. Everything we had is under mud now. The agriculture land and livestock, our only source of livelihood, are also completely destroyed. We don’t have the basic means to cook food for ourselves.”

Since mid-April, flash flooding and other floods had left scores of people dead and destroyed farmlands across Afghanistan, a country where 80 percent of its more than 41 million people depend on agriculture to survive.

The South Asian nation is prone to natural disasters and is considered by the UN to be one of countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Aid group Save the Children said about 600,000 people, half of them children, live in the five districts in Baghlan that have been severely impacted by the recent floods.

“Lives and livelihoods have been washed away. The flash floods tore through villages, sweeping away homes and killing livestock. Children have lost everything,” Arshad Malik, the group’s country director in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

Most of the affected areas are still cut off on Sunday, inaccessible by trucks as roads and bridges were damaged by the floods, which also impacted other public infrastructure.

People were struggling to access essential health services, the World Health Organization said in a statement, as “several health facilities remain non-operational.”

Abdul Fatah Jawad, director of Ehsas Welfare and Social Services Organization, said that many of the flood survivors were still in shock.

“People are so scared and traumatized. Most houses that survived the flooding are emptied as people fear more floods. Families took refuge in school yards and deserted areas far from residential houses,” Jawad told Arab News.

He said families are in urgent need of basic goods, such as food, drinking water, medicine, tents, blankets and shelter. Since Saturday, his organization has managed to deliver cooked food for hundreds of families.

“People, particularly children, need to eat something … They also need cash to rebuild their houses and their businesses,” he said. “Some families lost everything — house, land, livestock, business. They are completely helpless.”

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