Afghanistan: Devastating earthquake exacerbates serious humanitarian crisis – Afghanistan

Statement from Neil Turner, National Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Afghanistan, on the devastating 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the country last night:

“Our teams are on the ground carrying out a rapid needs assessment in Spera district, Khost province. The NRC will support the affected communities with cash and provide emergency shelter. We will also send shortly another team to Paktika to assess the situation there.

“Early estimates in the Afghan provinces of Khost and Paktika indicate that the earthquake claimed the lives of more than a thousand people, and the death toll is likely to rise. Many more have been injured. , lost their home and everything they owned.

“We still do not have a full picture of the humanitarian needs among those displaced by the earthquake, but the Taliban authorities have already launched their own response and called for urgent humanitarian aid, granting humanitarian agencies full access. to affected areas and carrying out search and rescue operations.

“Environmental disasters such as earthquakes and droughts occur regularly in Afghanistan and remain a major driver of displacement. The cascading impacts of climate change and deepening economic crisis are making it more difficult to find durable and long-term solutions for displaced Afghans, despite a significant decrease in fighting since August 2021.”

Facts and figures:

  • Spera district in Khost province; The districts of Barmala, Ziruk, Nika and Gayan in the province of Paktika are among the areas most affected by the earthquake.

  • Khost province is home to thousands of internally displaced Afghans, returnees and refugees from Waziristan.

  • It is now confirmed that 1,800 homes have been destroyed, but the exact levels of damage and destruction are still unknown.

  • The number of casualties is rising as search and rescue operations continue to be carried out by the de facto authorities. Helicopters are used to reach people in hard-to-reach rural areas, bring in emergency medical supplies and food.

  • Most of the earthquake-affected population have already experienced multiple displacements and been hit hard by the economic collapse, following the financial restrictions imposed on the country after the Taliban took power.

  • Last year, 1.3 million people were internally displaced. This is an unprecedented number, due to a combination of conflict and natural disasters.

  • More than 24 million people – more than half of the Afghan population – need humanitarian aid to survive. This is a 30% increase over last year.

  • The REACH Mid-Year Evaluation for Afghanistan indicates a worsening of the economic situation of Afghans. Households are taking on more debt, mainly due to the need to buy food in a context of rising prices and falling incomes.

  • The FAO-MAP have now ranked Afghanistan among the top six countries that have populations identified or at risk of starvation or death, or at risk of deteriorating to catastrophic conditions, that require the most urgent attention.

  • NRC has been present in Afghanistan since 2003. We have 1,400 Afghan employees and work in 14 provinces of the country. We helped over 840,000 people in 2021.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

  • Becky Roby, Afghanistan Advocacy Officer: +93 (0)799797746 (WhatsApp) / +93 (0)708827374, becky.roby@nrc.no

  • NRC Global Media Hotline: +47 905 62 329, media@nrc.no

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