India sends aid to Afghanistan, Taliban welcome return of Indian diplomats
The relief materials include essential items such as family ridge tents, sleeping bags, blankets and sleeping mats. The consignment will be handed over to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) in Kabul
India has sent 27 tonnes of emergency relief assistance for the people of Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 5.9-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people.
The relief materials were sent on two flights, one of which also carried a “technical team” that was deployed at the Indian embassy in Kabul to re-establish the country’s diplomatic presence in Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban takeover in August last year.
In a tweet, external affairs minister S Jaishankar described the despatch of the emergency assistance as the action of “a true first responder”.
The relief materials include essential items such as family ridge tents, sleeping bags, blankets and sleeping mats. The consignment will be handed over to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) in Kabul, the external affairs ministry said.
“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 ministry said in a statement.
A heavy lift aircraft of the Indian Air Force was used to ferry the first consignment of relief materials while a chartered flight of Kam Air carried the second consignment of aid for Afghan people affected by the earthquake that struck early on Wednesday, with its epicentre a short distance from the city of Khost.
Heavy rains, lack of equipment and rugged terrain are affecting rescue efforts and people are feared to be still buried in the rubble of mud brick houses.
The Taliban setup in Kabul is also grappling with an economic crisis and a severe food shortage has affected a third of the country’s population.
According to UNOCHA, more than 7,000 people have died in earthquakes in Afghanistan over the past decade. The death toll on Wednesday made this Afghanistan’s deadliest earthquake in 20 years, according to official US data.
Meanwhile, the Taliban welcomed India’s decision to send diplomats and a technical team to the embassy in Kabul to “continue their relations with the Afghan people and their humanitarian assistance”.
A statement issued by the Taliban’s foreign ministry spokesman claimed the return of Indian diplomats to Afghanistan and the reopening of the embassy “demonstrates that security is established in the country, and all political and diplomatic rights are respected”.
The spokesman said the Taliban “assures all existing embassies that the security of their compounds will be taken care of in line with international diplomatic practices”.
The Taliban called on “other countries to return to their diplomatic compounds and reopen their embassies”, the spokesman said.