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Earthquake in Afghanistan: From emergency to rehabilitation

04-03-1998 News Release 98/09

Red Cross teams based in Rostaq have finished distributing emergency relief to the villages worst affected by the recent earthquake in Afghanistan's Takhar province.

Using a combination of airdrops and transport by helicopter, trucks and donkey caravans, the Red Cross has delivered over 250 metric tonnes of tents, blankets and other essential supplies to survivors in the 14 villages initially assessed as having suffered the worst damage.

" Poor weather conditions and difficult terrain have made this one of the most complex logistical operations we have faced in years " , said Eric Grand D'Hauteville, head of the ICRC office in Rostaq. " When the weather was good, we were able to deploy all the modern technology available; at other times, the only viable alternative was to use donkeys to carry the supplies. "

The Red Cross, which has been working closely with the other agencies on the spot - notably the UN, in charge of food assistance, and Médecins sans Frontières , which covers medical needs - now intends to scale down its operation. The focus will shift to strengthening the Afghan Red Crescent Society in the region and providing inhabitants with items such as farming tools to help them regain some degree of self-sufficiency.