UN jumps to emergency: More than 1,000 killed in Afghan earthquake

An earthquake has caused a destructive scene in the border region of Afghanistan, taking the lives of at least 1,000 people.

It was the deadliest earthquake in decades for Afghanistan, a 5.9 magnitude quake that caused more damage in the east, an already difficult place for people who have been affected by other disasters as well as the Taliban

The United Nations’ humanitarian agency was struggling to provide emergency shelter, food and trauma support to those affected. Humanitarian partners were assembling support for affected families in Paktika and Khost provinces. “Immediate needs identified include emergency trauma care, emergency shelter and non-food items, food assistance and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) support,” the OCHA had reported. There has been heavy rains and cold weather, so emergency shelter is at the forefront of their priorities. 

Demolished buildings in Afghan quake
Credit: WFP/Sheer Ali

It’s reported that the Taliban’s disaster management and humanitarian affairs office has been able to provide food and tents to families who live in the open. The agency has commented that a dispatch of five helicopters to Paktika province has been followed through as the Afghan defense ministry want to ensure medical evacuations for those critically injured. There have been hundreds reported as injured and the number is continuing to rise.  There are ongoing search and rescue attempts but the unpredictable wind and rain is intercepting with the helicopters landing. 

Dozens of teams of health workers are being sent to Gayan by UNICEF, the UN children’s agency. UNICEF’s Afghanistan representative Mohamed Ayoya is making immediate and basic needs a priority for casualties. “UNICEF is also distributing critical aid, including kitchen equipment, hygiene supplies including soap, detergent, towels, sanitary pads and water buckets, warm clothes, shoes and blankets, as well as tents and tarpaulins,” he has informed the press. 

WFP Afghan Quake
Credit: Photo: WFP/Afghanistan

Within hours of the quake attack, the World Health Organization’s team has been supporting health workers in helping the lives affected.  It has also delivered 100 cartons of emergency medicine to Gayan and Barmal and has confirmed that these kits have reached Paktika Provincial Hospital for those who need immediate attention. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the chief of WHO, expressed his condolences for all those grieving and trying to survive. “WHO will continue supporting people in need across the country,” he wrote on Twitter.