In the wake of a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Afghanistan’s western Herat province, international aid organizations are rushing to provide assistance to survivors. The earthquake, one of the deadliest in years, has left over 2,000 people dead and many more injured in a nation already grappling with the ravages of war and a severe economic crisis.
The epicenter of the quake was located just 25 miles west of Herat city, in the third-largest province in Afghanistan. Heart-wrenching images depict vast piles of debris and rubble as buildings crumbled, forcing survivors into the streets for safety.
Thamindri de Silva, national director at World Vision Afghanistan, described the dire situation, saying, “The situation is worse than we imagined, with people in devastated villages still desperately trying to rescue survivors from under the rubble with their bare hands.” Reinforcements from Kabul have arrived to assist, but resources are stretched thin, with only one hospital available, prompting the transfer of serious cases to private facilities.
Mark Calder, World Vision Afghanistan’s advocacy lead, highlighted the earthquake’s impact on a nation already burdened by decades of conflict, successive droughts, and a collapsing economy. He emphasized that funding from the international community has been insufficient and called for sustained commitment from governments and donors.
UN agencies and partners are swiftly deploying teams and resources to address the crisis. UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed solidarity with the Afghan people and called on the international community to support those affected by the earthquake, recognizing that many were already in need before this disaster.
UNICEF has dispatched hygiene kits, family kits, winter clothes, blankets, tarpaulins, and household items to aid humanitarian efforts. Additional assessments are underway, and emergency provisions are being provided to overburdened health clinics.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid reported casualties, with over 2,000 people killed, more than 1,240 injured, and 1,320 houses either completely or partially destroyed. Concerns persist that the toll may rise further.
Afghanistan, one of Asia’s poorest countries, has been plagued by conflict for decades. The Taliban’s takeover in 2021 further isolated the nation and led to a halt in crucial aid programs, compounded by international funding cuts.
Regular earthquakes continue to inflict significant damage on the country, further straining its ability to recover. Despite the challenges, only a handful of countries have publicly offered support, highlighting the urgent need for global aid to aid the earthquake survivors in Afghanistan during this difficult time.
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