An Afghan in Ireland fears for his family back home

An Afghan who has lived in Ireland since 2016 has expressed fear and concern for his family back home after an earthquake in the beleaguered country killed 1,000 people.

The village where Hameed Ur Rehman Aryoubi grew up in Afghanistan’s Paktika province was reduced to rubble after Wednesday’s earthquake.

“These village buildings are made of mud, they don’t look like the houses we have here,” Mr Aryoubi told RTÉ News.

As we sit in his living room in Mayfield in County Cork, the father-of-four shows us a video his cousin sent him of what remains of the village.

“So he points to where each house was. Thirteen people are buried in this house, four people are buried in this house, this one (one), the whole family is under the mud, so no one survived “, he said.

Mr. Aryoubi also lost his family in the earthquake.

“My aunt died with her two children, they were buried and around 3 a.m. local time their bodies were brought out (from the rubble),” Mr Aryoubi said.

People stand on the rubble of a house damaged in an earthquake in Paktika Province, Afghanistan

They were the first family victims he heard of, but not the last. The hours following the natural disaster brought sadder news.

“There are four members of my close family on my father’s side, they were the only four men who fed the whole family, unfortunately all four men died,” Mr Aryoubi said.

“Honestly, when I talk to everyone, all I hear is people are desperate, looking for their loved ones, and I know a few people who are still looking.”

His parents are elderly and his mother, who suffers from several health problems, was injured in the earthquake.

“In (the) sPeera (region) there is only one clinic…the clinic where my family spent last night. It was packed,” he said.

“People don’t know first aid, and if they know first aid, there’s no medical equipment or medicine to give these people. There’s a shortage of ambulances, people use tractors.

The tractors that people use here for farming, people in my country put dead bodies to move them from one area to another.”

He said that after decades of unrest, people in the area were already struggling.

“It’s a very poor village in the middle of nowhere, where people are hungry, they’re trying to feed their children, but now they have a bigger challenge,” Aryoubi said.

A photo of the earthquake destruction sent to Hameed Ur Rehman Aryoubi by his family

He says phone and internet signals are spotty, and when we talk to him, his family is out of reach and trying to reach the town of Garde in hopes of finding shelter and medical attention for his mother.

This year, Mr Aryoubi applied to bring his elderly parents and his late brother’s children to Ireland under the Afghanistan Admissions Scheme.

It opened after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan and closed to applications in March.

He hasn’t heard anything yet.

“I was hoping that I would get my family out of there…we were just looking for the safety of my family, and then this brand new tragedy happened, and (maybe) thousands of people lost their lives, and it happened. put my family in grief again,” he said.

Mr Aryoubi called on Ireland and the international community to support the Afghan people as they endure this latest tragedy.

“It doesn’t matter your race, religion or any other group, we are all humans, we should help each other, it’s just that my country is in a really terrible situation,” he said.

“It’s been like this for 40 years, but today, as we speak, there are people who are in great need of shelter, food or medical help.

“If anyone from the government, from those authorities, or from the people, the generous people of Ireland, could help the victims of this disaster, myself and my fellow countrymen would really appreciate it,” he said. -he declares.

Mr Aryoubi’s family set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a local NGO Focus Afghanistan.

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