Earthquake in Afghanistan: It is everyone’s responsibility not to let the Afghan people die | Expert Network | future planet


A 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck western Afghanistan last Monday, January 17, at around 4:00 p.m. The earthquake occurred in the Qadis district of Badghis province, where World Vision Afghanistan has an operations office. It was also felt in Herat, albeit slightly. We are still assessing the situation, assisting the injured and the families of the 26 dead, a number that we believe will continue to rise.

Badghis is a vast rural and mountainous region that lacks advanced infrastructure. Most families live in adobe houses that can easily collapse in an earthquake. Direct reports from our field staff indicate that some families have become homeless and must move in with family members or relatives in very small houses with virtually no space. While others must take refuge in makeshift tents.

We have been working in this region for years, we know the families first hand and we know that this is the last thing they need to happen in their lives. Especially since now the weather can be extremely cold in Badghis and the snow will soon be coming down hard. Most of those affected are already living without food, medicine or clean water, but at least they had mud houses to protect themselves. Now they are without them. It is heartbreaking to see children searching for their loved ones in the mud.

Most of those affected are already living without food, medicine or clean water, but at least they had mud houses to protect themselves. Now they have run out of them

At the moment, the aid is focused on providing the population affected by the earthquake with basic necessities, such as shelter, water and food. The joint assessment team that was deployed will return with more data, and the humanitarian community will decide how to continue helping.

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This catastrophe comes at a time when Afghanistan is facing a very serious humanitarian crisis.

The population has to endure daily harsh conditions: families who sell all their possessions on the streets of the city; people, often women, who cannot eat; children who are sold to richer families so that their siblings can live; children who share hospital beds and die of malnutrition after days of begging on the streets. The need increases every day and my heart breaks every time I go out on the street and see the situation with my own eyes.

As a humanitarian organization that has been working in the country for 21 years and continues to operate despite the complex situation, we reiterate the reports that highlight the critical humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, especially for vulnerable children, their families and communities.

The Afghan people cannot bear any more suffering: famine, harsh winter, heavy rains and now an earthquake. Although many donors have generously stepped in, our work has been severely constrained by the international community’s anti-terrorism measures, especially sanctions and access to funding. Lack of liquidity in the financial sector has restricted the ability to maintain services. If we want to help families, the money has to reach the streets of Afghanistan.

If we want to help families, the money has to reach the streets of Afghanistan

One of our main objectives now is to meet with the UN and the main donors so that the funds enter the country and guarantee that everything that is invested is used for the benefit of the families we work with. It is the responsibility of all of us not to let the Afghan people die. The humanitarian community must step up its activities, and we need more money to flow into the country without hindrance. Afghan children cannot wait. They need our help, and they need it today. We will not let them suffer alone.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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