- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The United States will provide almost $55 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan following a devastating earthquake on June 22 that killed at least 1,000 people, injured countless more and destroyed an estimated 10,000 homes.

The magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck Afghanistan’s hard-hit Patika Province in the eastern section of the country. The State Department said the quake “intensified the ongoing humanitarian crisis the Afghan people have endured for too long.”

Relief agencies already on the ground in Afghanistan, funded by the U.S., immediately responded to the area with medical care. President Biden ordered an assessment of any additional needs in the wake of the disaster, officials said.

“This additional relief assistance will reach people affected by the earthquake with critical relief items: shelter materials; pots for cooking; jerry cans to collect and store water; blankets; solar lamps, clothes, and other household items,” Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken said in a statement. 

Dr. Ramiz Albarakov, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, said repair of damaged water pipes, better road access to the affected areas, and cholera prevention assistance is needed along with food and emergency shelters for those Afghans displaced by the earthquake.

“Without such transitional support, women, men and children will continue to endure unnecessary and unimaginable hardship,” Dr. Albarakov said.

The U.S. will be providing assistance to help prevent a disease outbreak in the country, officials said. The new funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan to over $774 million in the last year.

“The United States has an enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan, and we welcome and encourage support from our international partners in this time of great need,” Secretary Blinken said.

The relief package from Washington comes as Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill press for congressional hearings into how the Biden administration conducted the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan last year, along with the evacuation of Americans and allies from Kabul after the pro-U.S. government fell to the Taliban.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized what he called the “chaotic and deadly” withdrawal that claimed the lives of 13 U.S. service members and more than 150 Afghans from a bomb blast at the airport in Kabul. He also accused the administration of leaving more than 700 Americans “behind enemy lines.”

“The American people deserve answers about what happened in Afghanistan,” Mr. McCaul said in a Twitter message.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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