The Ongoing Struggle: The Lingering Effects of Devastating Earthquakes in Afghanistan

Feb 12, 2024

In a country already burdened, several earthquakes of large magnitudes further compounded the humanitarian problems faced by the vulnerable populace of Afghanistan. On the 7th of October 2023, the first earthquake, with 6.4 magnitude and a depth of 4 miles, struck the country, with its epicentre at Zinda Jan in the western province. This was the worst earthquake experienced by the country in a quarter of a decade. Three additional earthquakes with the same magnitude,
succeeded by severe aftershocks, struck nearby city Herat within four days. Apart from Herat, other provinces such as Injil, Kushk, Ghulan, and Kosak have also been hit.

The effects have been truly horrifying. 2,445 people are reported to have been killed and 9,420 people injured across eleven villages of Zinda Jan district. More than 90% of those who died in the earlier quakes were women and children, the UN’s children agency UNICEF said. Almost a hundred thousand children have been negatively affected. Nearly 2 million people live in this province, with Herat being the third-largest city in Afghanistan. Over 7,000 families have been affected, according to OCHA. Buildings and structures have collapsed, trapping people inside. Villages have been flattened, crops destroyed, and schools have been turned into rubble. Main roadways and transport lines have been blocked and houses have been destroyed, requiring people to sleep in the open, braving the extreme elements as temperatures soar to over 30°C in the day and plummet to single digits at night. Understaffed hospitals are not equipped to deal with the overwhelming number of patients.

UNICEF and the Afghan Red Cross have been working tirelessly to provide aid and relief to those affected by the natural disaster by providing medical and midwifery nursing kits to the victims. According to Daniel Peter Endres, acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, local communities and aid organisations are helping those in need by providing food and non-food relief items, including tents, blankets, personal hygiene items, and heating supplies. However, this has proven to be insufficient, and more help is needed.

The humanitarian community in Afghanistan has created an initial response plan for recovery, focusing on 114,000 people whose homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Yet, Endres also mentions how the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan 2023 is ‘severely underfunded’, as the plan had a requirement of 3.23 billion dollars, out of which 54.4% has been unmet. As of 2024, 97.4% requirements are unmet.

Many countries have withdrawn foreign aid to Afghanistan and refuse to acknowledge the Taliban government, increasing the woes of the people of Afghanistan. We, at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association, have worked to raise funds for humanitarian support through our social media channels. The British Red Cross Fundraising Link: The British Red Cross has also raised funds for the same. We urge you to donate in order to support the people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been impacted by more earthquakes as of 6 February 2024, with a magnitude of 4.3 and a depth of 102 km.

These come as a further shock to the impoverished yet resilient population, who already suffer food insecurity, malnutrition, inadequate healthcare, mass unemployment, and human rights violations, after the takeover of the country by the Taliban in 2021.

Researched and written by Reva Naidu

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