Aid workers have reached earthquake-stricken areas of western Afghanistan and distributed emergency food supplies to those affected. Rescue efforts continue after powerful earthquakes caused widespread destruction and killed over 2,000 people in the country’s worst natural disaster in years.
The United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) has delivered aid to several hundred people in Herat Province, with the agency ready to increase the number to 70,000. The World Health Organization (WHO) has rushed teams to areas worst affected by the earthquakes, with over 11,000 people affected.
Around two-thirds of those hospitalized in Herat with severe injuries are women and children. Many countries, institutions, and individual business people have announced immediate assistance to the victims. Volunteers have transported food, tents, and blankets to the severely affected areas 30 kilometres northwest of Herat City, the capital of the province. Local officials have provided conflicting casualty tolls from the earthquake. The Ministry of Disasters reported 4,000 deaths or injuries, while the United Nations estimates 1,023 deaths and 1,663 injuries in 11 villages in the Zindah Jan district of Herat Province.
The Taliban claims that nearly 2,000 houses in 20 villages were destroyed. The exact number of dead and injured will be shared after search-and-rescue operations are completed. A massive earthquake struck Herat, a city with a population of 700,000, with its epicentre 40 kilometres northwest of the city. The earthquake was followed by three major aftershocks, with the largest at 6.3 magnitude. The latest aftershock occurred 30 kilometres northeast of the city of Zindah Jan, which has a population of 70,000. The earthquake and aftershocks were primarily felt in four villages in the Zindah Jan district of Herat Province.
Afghanistan has experienced a devastating earthquake, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. The first earthquake was initially perceived as a missile or bomb, leading to people fleeing their homes. However, the quake continued, causing houses to collapse, and leading to a high number of casualties. UNICEF and partner agencies have set up tents to provide emergency medical aid to the affected communities, and temporary schools are being established to enable children to resume their education.
The earthquake struck on the day renewed hostilities broke out in the Middle East, diverting global attention from the crisis in Afghanistan. The country, which relies on foreign aid for its economy, healthcare, and social services, has seen donor nations cut most of the financial assistance since the hardline Taliban seized power two years ago. The U.N. humanitarian office has announced $5 million worth of assistance for the quake response, while the Taliban has urged foreign nations and international aid agencies to help in rehabilitating quake victims.
Pakistan, Iran, and China’s Red Cross Society have provided aid to Afghan earthquake victims, while the Taliban claims Saudi charity provided $2 million worth of humanitarian food through the Afghan Red Crescent Society. The U.S. diplomatic mission to Afghanistan, Karen Decker, praised the U.N. for approving funds for emergency relief efforts.
Amnesty International has called on Taliban authorities to ensure safe access to earthquake-hit regions for humanitarian agencies. The Taliban have banned Afghan female staff from employment and ordered many women government employees to stay home. Aid agencies argue this restricts humanitarian activities in a conservative society. Additionally, teenage girls are forbidden from education beyond sixth grade, leading to the Taliban’s isolation and refusal to recognize their government.