Current Affairs

Flood-affected families need shelter before winter

KABUL: Thousands of people who lost their houses in January-May flooding in different parts of Afghanistan need help to repair or rebuild their homes, or find new ones, before winter. “Where houses are damaged or completely destroyed, people are in urgent need of shelter,” Asif Khairkhwa, chairman of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) in the northern province of Balkh, told Integrated Regional Information Networks. “People should have a shelter before the winter.”

Similar concerns were echoed by officials in Takhar, Sar-i-Pul, Baghlan and Badakhshan provinces, where thousands of houses have been damaged by floods and avalanches over the past six months. “Emergency shelter continues to be a primary gap in the response,” said OCHA’s flood situation report on 15 June.

The floods killed at least 66 people and affected over 21,000 families in the northern and northeastern provinces, according to reports by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Aid agencies and the Afghan government provided emergency assistance.

In some flood-affected provinces government officials said there were no funds which could be used to help people rebuild their homes. The only feasible solution, they said, was to distribute tents. However, even tents are not available for all.

“We even don’t have adequate tents to distribute to those in need…We only have 150 tents for 800 families,” Khairkhwa, the ARCS chairman in Balkh, said. According to an OCHA map of unmet needs in flood-affected areas, thousands of tents and/or temporary shelters are needed in a number of affected provinces.

ROADS STILL BLOCKED: Many flood-affected roads are impassable, meaning that aid cannot get through to people in some places, according to provincial authorities and OCHA. “Roads to six districts are still closed while people in those districts need aid,” said Sayed Nasir Hemat, ARCS’s head in the northeastern province of Badakhshan. The blocked roads had also meant people could not access health services in some cases, and had increased food prices, he said.

Assessments by OCHA and other agencies have identified an urgent need to clear roads in Faryab, Takhar, Baghlan and Samangan provinces. However, Ghulam Haider, an adviser to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, said the government had allocated funds only for the reopening of roads blocked by snow and avalanches. There were insufficient funds to repair and reopen flood-damaged roads: “Repairing these roads requires millions of dollars,” he told IRIN. NNI

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Mubashar Nizam

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