Afghanistan is once again facing a devastating earthquake, adding to the already heavy burden of challenges faced by the country.
On Sunday morning, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake occurred in regions northeast of Herat city.
As of Monday evening, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that two individuals had died and more than 150 were wounded in the most recent earthquake.
Approximately 1,500 individuals have perished and an additional 2,000 have sustained injuries.
Race against time
UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Daniel Peter Endres, stated that aid organizations are facing a time-sensitive task of providing assistance before the arrival of winter.
The vulnerable communities in Afghanistan have been struck by these earthquakes, adding to their ongoing struggles with decades of conflicts and lack of development. During a video call from New York, he shared this information with journalists.
The communities impacted by these events are not well-equipped to handle the many shocks they are facing at once. This is especially concerning with winter approaching, as households have limited access to food and are already struggling to meet their needs.
According to him, the nightly temperatures have significantly dropped. He mentioned that those whose houses were affected are spending the night outdoors, fearing that their homes may completely collapse.
Initial response plan
He stated that nearby communities and charitable groups are assisting those who require assistance by supplying nourishment and essential relief supplies like shelters, covers, and heating materials. Nevertheless, additional aid is required.
The humanitarian sector in Afghanistan has devised an initial strategy for rehabilitation, with a specific focus on aiding 114,000 individuals whose residences were ruined or significantly impaired. The blueprint may be adjusted as needed.
Mr. Endres stated that the crisis response will be incorporated into the 2023 Afghanistan Response Plan, which is already facing significant funding shortages.
The recent seismic activity has contributed to the already overwhelming challenges faced by Afghans, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday.
Philippe Kropf, a representative for the agency in Afghanistan, stated that these communities are already struggling to provide food for themselves and each crisis pushes them further into extreme poverty. Kropf visited impacted villages following the initial earthquakes last week.
“He emphasized that this is a result of almost four decades of ongoing conflict, extreme levels of food insecurity, and five years of drought or similar conditions. Additionally, an economic decline two years ago has led to the loss of livelihoods and employment opportunities.”
Damage till date
OCHA has reported that approximately 43,000 individuals, equivalent to 7,165 families, have been directly impacted by the earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks in the region. As per reports, over 3,300 households have been destroyed, with 2,100 being severely damaged and 1,700 moderately damaged.
Various buildings, such as aid facilities, homes, water sources, and offices, have been damaged with varying levels of severity. Ongoing engineering assessments are being conducted to determine the extent of structural damage and to facilitate the return of distressed residents to their homes.