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*Sayed Farid Sanai. 

Afghan journalist and former Ennis resident Sayed Farid Sanai has said Afghanistan “is going to a darkness” following the devastating earthquake which rocked the middle eastern state last week.

The earthquake measured 5.9 on the Richter scale when it struck the south-east of the country at 1:30am (10pm Irish time) on Wednesday killing 1,193 people, injuring more than 2,000, and greatly exasperating the economic and humanitarian disasters which has been plaguing the country for the last 12 months.

Sanai, who was a prominent TV journalist in Afghanistan, lived in Ennis between 2019 and 2021 in which time he became hugely involved in the community educating pupils at Scoil Chríost Rí in Cloughleigh on the situation in Afghanistan and also forming part of Trudy Leyden’s (IND) campaign team for the 2020 General Election.

Demoralised following yet another blow to his home nation he told The Clare Echo this week that “there is no light in the future for [Afghanistan’s] people”. He did confirm however that his family back in Afghanistan were not affected by the disaster, “my family is all safe as this earthquake was in the south of Afghanistan and me, myself I’m from Kabul and most of my friends and family live in Kabul, and unfortunately most of them have left Afghanistan because of the situation” he said.

One of the biggest problems which has developed in Afghanistan in the last year has been extreme poverty and food shortages the likes of which the country hasn’t seen in a long time, last month the NGO Save the Children reported that 19.7 million adults and children are going hungry in Afghanistan and require urgent assistance, this problem is likely to worsen as a result of the earthquake.

Farid agrees that this is one of the most significant issues facing Afghanistan, “the economic problem is the big problem at the minute in Afghanistan for the people. Most of the people have become poor and unfortunately there is no food at the moment and most of the economic relationships between our neighbouring countries and us have stopped and the banking system froze for a long time and the people who had money in the bank couldn’t get back their money” he said.

“One of the main problems [with the earthquake] is that this area, the Khost [and] Paktia provinces of Afghanistan, which were faced with the earthquake, are very poor and more than 3,000 houses have been damaged in this earthquake. [So now] these people are poor, and they don’t have any houses, and they don’t have every single facility they need at the moment. They are waiting for help from the international community or the United Nations or our neighbouring countries. They said that Iran, Pakistan and some other countries will send some help for them, and yesterday they received two airplanes of emergency help with food and other things like that, but this support can’t affect this big a problem,” he added.

One small positive he noted though was that the people of Clare seem to have a good awareness of Afghanistan’s struggles and a strong willingness to help its people, “my experience from the day I came to Ireland was that all Irish people really follow Afghanistan’s news, and they really want to help Afghan people. As my experience in Clare, I have made many good friends there, and most of them are like my relatives. I can’t forget Clare. Most of [my friend’s there] follow Afghanistan’s news and whenever they’ve seen Afghanistan in the media like with the earthquake, they’ve called me and asked about my family and they’ve wanted to show [support], they’ve wanted to understand me. Just two, three days ago I received many phone calls from my Irish friends and I do appreciate all these things, I can say thanks at the end of the day, they really understand us and they stand with me whenever I have a problem. I can say Clare people are a good people” he said.

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