Kabul [Afghanistan], June 26 (ANI): Taliban urged the United States on Saturday to unfreeze Afghanistan's foreign funds and lift financial sanctions to help the war-torn country deal with its deadliest earthquake in more than two decades.
Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Saturday, while speaking to reporters in Kabul, said, "In these testing times, we call on the United States to release Afghanistan's frozen assets and lift sanctions on Afghan banks so that aid agencies could easily deliver assistance to Afghanistan."
Notably, US President Joe Biden in February signed an executive order to free 7 billion US dollars out of more than 9 billion frozen Afghan assets, splitting the money between humanitarian aid for Afghanistan and a fund for 9/11 victims.
The United Nations said humanitarian organizations, in coordination with Taliban authorities, are continuing to provide aid to families in Paktika and Khost, the two southeastern Afghan provinces hardest hit by Wednesday's 5.9 magnitude earthquake, reported Voice of America (VOA).
"There are, however, unconfirmed reports that between 700 and 800 families are living in the open across three of the six worst-affected districts," said a UN statement on Saturday.
"Families living in non-damaged and partially damaged buildings have also reportedly resorted to living out in the open out of fear that there may be further tremors," it added.
According to the Taliban officials, the quake killed 1,150 people, injured about 1,600 and destroyed nearly 3,000 homes, with hundreds more partially damaged. As per UN children's fund UNICEF, atleast 121 children were among those killed and the toll is likely to increase.
Afghan authorities have called off the search for survivors, and they were struggling to deliver critically needed aid due to capacity challenges. "We are urgently working to address complicated questions about the use of these funds to ensure they benefit the people of Afghanistan and not the Taliban," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Saturday.
Meanwhil, India delivered the second consignment of relief assistance on Friday to support the people of Afghanistan badly affected by the earthquake that struck this week in the eastern part of the country.
The relief batch that reached Kabul is the second one in two days, being given in the wake of a devastating earthquake that claimed more than 1,000 lives.
"Second consignment of India's earthquake relief assistance for the people of Afghanistan reaches Kabul," the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet.
The relief assistance consists of essential items including family ridge tents, sleeping bags, blankets, sleeping mats, etc. "In the wake of the tragic earthquake that struck Afghanistan on June 22, 2022 causing massive destruction and loss of precious lives, the Government of India, as a true first responder, has dispatched 27 tons of emergency relief assistance in two flights for the people of Afghanistan," the MEA said in a statement.
"As always, India stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, with whom we share centuries-old ties, and remains firmly committed to provide immediate relief assistance for the Afghan people," the statement added.
India on Thursday handed over the first consignment to support the Afghan nationals affected by the earthquake. India also deployed a team to the Embassy in Kabul to coordinate the efforts of stakeholders for the delivery of humanitarian aid. (ANI)