Calgarians with family in Afghanistan struggle to help earthquake survivors – Calgary

Calgarians are doing what they can to help victims of Afghanistan’s devastating earthquake, but some say their efforts are being curtailed by ongoing sanctions against the Taliban.

The powerful earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday.

It is the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in decades, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring many more. It also flattened houses of stone and mud bricks.

Read more:

At least 1,000 people killed in powerful earthquake in Afghanistan

Roya Saddat came to Calgary from Afghanistan 11 years ago. On the day of the earthquake, she spoke to her parents, who still live in Afghanistan.

“They were really scared, especially my younger sister who stays behind with my mom and dad. She was really terrified of this earthquake,” Saddat said.

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“They wanted to get out of the house and out on the street to be safe so their house didn’t collapse on them.”

She worries about how the survivors will cope.

“It is very difficult these days because there is no work, no jobs and the banks don’t give money to people. You can’t even send money from abroad,” Saddat said.

“People just think what to do. There is no work, no food, no help.”

About 1,600 refugees from Afghanistan have come to Calgary since the Taliban took over. Hundreds still stay in hotels.

“This happened in the east and south, which is a very rural area, so I’m sure the support they need isn’t going to be there. So in 90 percent of the cases people have to solve it themselves,” said Fariborz Birjandian, the CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. He is also the national co-chair of the Afghan Resettlement Operation.

Employees of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society are now providing support to refugees whose relatives were killed in the earthquake.

Read more:

Afghanistan earthquake: villagers search for survivors with at least 1,000 dead

“The impact on the people here has clearly contributed to the stress. We have people from the earthquake zone here in Calgary who have lost four members of their families. It adds to the stress and the problems they have and makes our lives a little bit more complicated to make sure they get fresh air and exercise and recreation and pump them around with positive energy,” Birjandian said.

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The humanitarian disaster comes at a difficult time for the Taliban-ruled country, which is struggling with hunger and an economic crisis.

The takeover last year led to a shutdown of vital international funding and most of the world has shunned the Afghan government.

Malik Selemankhel of the Afghan Canadian Association of Calgary said sanctions against the Taliban government are making it nearly impossible to send money.

“We’re in a very difficult position and I’m sorry to say we can’t really do anything. It’s just too many roadblocks,” Selemankhel said.

“We tried to send money to the Red Crescent, but we couldn’t. The banks have blocked it, so that’s very disturbing.”

He said the Afghan Red Crescent is on the scene to help the victims and humanitarian aid has arrived from Pakistan and Iran.

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