Saturday, May 10, 2014

Afghanistan landslide: aid boom lures fraudsters to disaster-hit village --- Crowds of outsiders have rushed to the remote Afghan village that was buried in a landslide to try to pick up aid supplies meant for survivors of the disaster, the UN has said. -- More than 4,000 villagers were displaced by last Friday's disaster, which buried 300 homes in the northern village of Aab Bareek in up to 50 metres of mud, killing hundreds, and leaving nearly 700 other houses uninhabitable. -- Aid agencies have rushed tonnes of emergency supplies to the capital of Badakhshan province but distribution has been hindered by scuffles between the survivors, the poor from nearby villages and security forces. -- Much of Aab Bareek in Badakhshan province was engulfed by a fast-moving tide of mud and rock that swept down on to the village on Friday, leaving almost no trace of 300 homes. -- A major international aid effort swung into action, with government officials saying the death toll was at least 300 and some estimates putting it as high as 2,500. -- But the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the sudden arrival of food, tents, blankets and medical supplies had attracted many locals from surrounding parts of the mountainous northern province. -- "Access challenges at the site are now impeding the assessment of needs and the delivery of assistance, as more and more people from outside the immediate community are congregating at the disaster site," the UN warned. -- "Aid agencies are increasingly challenged to distinguish between those directly affected by the disaster and those who have come from outside the village, attracted by the quantity of relief items arriving." -- Local people and emergency workers had used shovels to dig out anyone trapped alive, but only a few bodies were pulled from the deep layer of mud. -- President Hamid Karzai visited the site on Wednesday and vowed that houses would be built for survivors as frustration grew over the government's response and the aid operation. -- Badakhshan is a poor, north-eastern province bordering Tajikistan, China and Pakistan. It has been relatively peaceful since the US-led military intervention in Afghanistan began in 2001, but has been the focus of increasing Taliban activity in recent years. --- The country is in the middle of presidential elections, with the former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and the ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani due to compete in a head-to-head runoff vote next month. - Guardian


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