Taliban administration to send earthquake aid to Turkey, Syria


  • World
  • Wednesday, 08 Feb 2023

People look on as the search for survivors continues in the aftermath of an earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, February 8, 2023. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's Taliban administration will send around $165,000 in aid to Turkey and Syria to help the response to a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck this week, according to a foreign ministry statement.

Afghanistan is in the grips of a severe economic and humanitarian crisis and is itself the location of one of the United Nation's largest humanitarian aid programs. The Taliban took over in 2021 as foreign forces withdrew, sparking enforcement of sanctions on its banking sector, and no capital has formally recognised its government.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan ... announces a relief package of 10 million Afghanis ($111,024) and 5 million Afghanis ($55,512) to Türkiye and Syria respectively on the basis of shared humanity and Islamic brotherhood," a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said late on Tuesday.

The death toll from the huge tremor in southern Turkey and Syria had jumped to more than 7,800 people on Tuesday as rescuers worked against time in harsh winter conditions to dig survivors out of the rubble of collapsed buildings. Tens of thousands more were injured and many people were left without homes in freezing temperatures.

In Afghanistan, hundreds have also died in recent weeks due to bitter cold and an economic crisis.

Many aid groups have partially suspended operations due to a Taliban administration ruling that most female NGO workers could not work, leaving agencies unable to operate many programmes in the conservative country. Western diplomats have said they will not consider formally recognising the administration unless it changes course on women's rights.

Despite the cut of development funding that once formed the backbone of the Afghan state's budget, the World Bank said in a report that the Taliban administration has increased exports - some of it coal to neighbouring Pakistan - and revenue collection remained strong, including from customs duties and mining royalties.

($1 = 90.0700 afghanis)

(Reporting by Kabul Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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