Afghanistan: Aid agency distributes tents, blankets after floods kill 50

News and Press Release
Originally published
KABUL, 28 June 2007 (IRIN) - Floods have killed at least 50 people and injured tens of others in seven provinces in the north, east and south of Afghanistan over the past two days, Afghan officials said.

"Initial reports indicate that flooding has killed up to 17 people in [northern] Panjshir Province alone," Abdul Matin Adrak, director of the Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA), told IRIN on 28 June.

Several people have also died in southern Paktia, eastern Kunar, and northern Parwan provinces, and in Kabul, ANDMA said.

A joint disaster response committee comprising several government bodies, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fear the number of people who have died in the floods that have hit different parts of Afghanistan since 24 June could be higher.

"These are only initial reports which may change once extended assessments are conducted," Ghulam Haider, a government official, said.

Afghanistan's disaster response committee has also reported the destruction of tens of houses in flood-affected areas, which has displaced many families.

"Bridges, canals, roads, agricultural land and many other things have been destroyed," a joint government and NGOs rapid assessment report indicated.

Helicopters in action

On 27 and 28 June about 2,500 individuals, surrounded by floodwaters, were evacuated by military helicopters from a remote location in eastern Kunar Province, officials said.

Forty other stranded people were airlifted from Kama District of Nangarhar Province on 27 June, according to provincial officials.

However, torrential rains halted evacuation operations late on 28 June in Kunar Province.

"Unrelenting rainfall is increasing the level of floodwaters thereby threatening the lives of some 200 people who are awaiting help on a hillside," the governor of Kunar, Shalizai Deedar, told IRIN from Kunar.

Kunar is one of the worst flood-affected provinces. According to the governor and ANDMA, at least eight people have died and many others have been injured.

Meanwhile, the airlift ran into difficulty on 27 June when a military helicopter was stranded for lack of fuel in Kunar Province.

Humanitarian response

Afghanistan's Red Crescent Society has started distributing tents and blankets to some affected families in Kunar, Paktia and Panjshir provinces.

UN agencies and some international humanitarian organisations have, meanwhile, pledged to send food and nonfood relief to those displaced and affected by the recent flooding.

However, humanitarian aid will only reach needy people after need assessments have been conducted, a UN official in Kabul said.

The UN World Food Programme will distribute foodstuffs and the UN Children's Agency (UNICEF) will distribute family kits, which include tarpaulins, plastic sheets and kitchen appliances.

"A disaster management commission chaired by Second Vice-President Karim Khalili has approved plans for the disbursement of 10,000 Afghanis [US$200] for any individual killed in the flooding," the head of ANDMA said.

More rain forecast

According to Afghanistan's national meteorology department, heavy rain, flooding and storms are unusual at this time of the year.

"There will be rain in some parts of the country in the coming three days," said the head of the meteorology department, Abdul Qadir Qadir, without specifying how heavy it would be.

"It is due to global climate change that we are seeing increasingly violent fluctuations in our weather conditions," Qadir said.