In mid-April, in the border district of Spera, Pakistani helicopters bombed villages, killing around fifty people.
Pakistan says armed groups, like the Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, are carrying out attacks from Afghan soil, across the notoriously porous border.
Afghan-Dubai, in eastern Khost province, was one of the villages targeted. Gul Nayeb Khan, 30, and his extended family live there.
His father, his sisters, his uncles and their wives… No less than 28 members of his extended family were killed in the Pakistani strikes.
The Pakistani army has not confirmed carrying out these attacks. But Islamabad has called on Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, with whom tensions have grown since seizing power in August, to take “tough action” against militants targeting its own territory.
The Afghan Taliban, which is a separate group from the TTP but shares its ideology, insisted that all the victims of the bombings were innocent civilians.
In Gul Nayeb Khan’s family, those who were injured were just beginning to rebuild their destroyed homes when the earthquake struck.
“Members of my family died (during the bombings), and now, while we were rebuilding our house, it was destroyed by the earthquake” of June 22, which left more than a thousand dead, se he laments, holding back his tears.
– “My heart aches” –
“My heart is in so much pain. We are facing all the misfortunes imaginable. I think I would have liked to be among the dead, there is no other way”, to escape this curse, adds he.
He came to get emergency aid distributed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
In the locality of Afghan-Dubai – name given at a time when the trade in pine nuts was flourishing in this mountainous region covered with conifers, and compared to that of oil -, the distribution of emergency aid is organized by a local ad-hoc committee and strictly supervised by armed Taliban.
It takes place at the top of a small hill in the center of the village, on an area the size of a basketball court.
The distribution area is delimited by ropes and those who try to cross them without having the right to do so risk beatings with sticks or belts distributed by the Taliban.
Gul Nayeb Khan was not entitled to his prize because his name was not on the list.
Hazrat Omar, 25, hopes to qualify. He lives near Afghan-Dubai and six members of his family died in the earthquake.
“It was midnight, we heard a loud noise, the roof of our house collapsed. As it is a border area, we thought that Pakistan was bombing our houses as they did lately”, testifies- he.
– “Life is very hard” –
In the line of those who have been registered and will receive a tent and an aid kit, Sharifullah Khan is holding his little ticket given by the IOM and also an identity document.
He fled Waziristan, Pakistan, when the Islamabad army launched operations against the TTP in the mid-2010s.
A refugee, he settled on the other side of the border, which can be seen running on the mountain ridges, less than two kilometers away.
“Pakistan destroyed our homes (in Waziristan). We came here to Afghanistan, and it’s been eight years since we received any help. Then Pakistan bombed us on Afghan soil. It made our very mentally unstable children,” he says.
“And now, after the earthquake, the aftershocks, the children can’t sleep at night,” he continues.
During the night from Sunday to Monday, the earth shook again, noted AFP journalists in Aghan-Dubai.
“Life here is very hard. We bear all the difficulties. The neighboring countries and the (Afghan) government should help the people of this region (…). The children live without a roof and in the rain, and no one is ‘interested in our fate,’ sighs Hazrat Omar.
Monday morning, from 05:00, the sun had barely risen, residents of the area were already approaching the distribution center.
An Afghan NGO installed batches of bags of flour, mats and blankets. The Taliban were preparing their sticks.