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U.S. Sanctions Cast Pall Over Post-quake Reconstruction in Afghanistan

Living with six family members under the blankets in open ground, Mohammad, a resident displaced by devastating earthquakes in Afghanistan’s Herat province, believed that the U.S. freezing of Afghanistan’s assets has undermined the local post-quake rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Afghanistan has been hit by the most destructive earthquakes in recent decades as tremors, some measuring a magnitude of 6.3, jolted the western Herat province since Oct. 7, leaving thousands of casualties.

“Even though the earthquake was over, we nearly lost the hope of life. We don’t know whether we can continue our life or not,” Mohammad, a 40-year-old villager in Herat, told Xinhua.

Thousands of houses have also been damaged due to the temblors shaking several villages in Zindajan district of Herat as many areas turned to rubble, forcing the survivors to live in open ground amid increasingly cold weather.

Although the caravans and tents donated by donor nations and aid agencies have reached the quake-affected areas, the affected families need to rebuild their houses or build new shelters.

“The United States which has oppressed the people of Afghanistan for years froze our money and refused to release it. If the money were released, we could use it to rebuild our houses,” Mohammad told Xinhua. “What America has done to us is with great injustice!”

Following the withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces from the war-torn country, Kabul’s assets worth more than 9 billion U.S. dollars were frozen by the United States as part of its sanctions on the new rulers of impoverished Afghanistan.

To further mount pressure on the Taliban-run administration, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a decree in February last year allowing allocating 3.5 billion dollars from the frozen Afghan assets to the families of the 9/11 terror attack victims.

Echoing similar sentiment, Dawood, another local resident, opined that the U.S. sanctions have worsened the already difficult plight for quaked-hit families.

The hardship of quake survivors is palpable as they live in open ground as the weather is getting cold and the chilly winter is nearing. Each of them needs shelter to live in ahead of snowfall.

“The United States has blocked the assets of Afghans and this has further added the suffering of the already suffered nation,” Dawood, who lost five members of his family including his wife and four children, lamented.

“Definitely the sanctions have 100 percent negative impact,” he said, adding that due to the measure the prices of bricks, cement, wood and other necessary building materials for rebuilding houses are rising, and far exceeding the affordability of Afghans.

Commenting on the U.S. sanctions on post-quake reconstruction, Herat provincial government spokesman Nisar Ahmad Elias said, “America or anyone else imposing sanctions on Afghanistan will largely punish the ordinary Afghans.”




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