Fears for 118,000 children in wake of Afghanistan’s deadly earthquake
Following the worst earthquake to hit Afghanistan in two decades, Save the Children and other agencies are deploying teams to the worst-hit areas to assess the damage and immediate needs of children and their families. The 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck at a depth of 10km in Afghanistan’s south-east in the early hours of Wednesday while most people were asleep.
It’s estimated more than 1,000 children and adults have lost their lives and approximately 1,500 people have been injured. However, these numbers are expected to rise as emergency teams reach remote areas.
Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children Country Director in Afghanistan, said:
“Save the Children has grave concerns for more than 118,000 children[i] who may have been impacted by the earthquake in Afghanistan’s south-east. We have reports of people sheltering out in the open under plastic sheets and many children are now most likely without clean drinking water, food and a safe place to sleep.
“Children are among the most vulnerable in the wake of natural disasters as they are at greater risk of hunger, dying due to their injuries and contracting infectious diseases. When separated from loved ones or orphaned, they are also at further risk of exploitation and abuse.
“Our team will travel to some of the worst-hit areas to begin assessing the damage and to better understand children’s immediate needs and how we can best support them.
“We have emergency supplies – such as tarpaulins, blankets, children’s clothes, shoes and cooking utensils – ready to be transported and then distributed. We’re also well set up to provide emergency cash assistance to families, which is so important in crises like this when families have lost everything.
“Afghanistan’s children have endured years of suffering and yesterday’s earthquake in Afghanistan’s south-eastern provinces is just another blow to a country already on its knees.
“Save the Children is calling on the international community to provide urgent, additional humanitarian aid, not just for the earthquake response, but for the wider crisis in Afghanistan where more than 18 million children and adults – almost 50% of the population – are going hungry.[ii]
“We’re seeing in the face of this disaster how healthcare and public services have been decimated over the last 12 months, and how important it is that governments provide largescale assistance to get basic services – like hospitals – back up and running.
“In addition to lifesaving aid in the immediate term, the international community must also address Afghanistan’s economic collapse by unfreezing assets and identifying ways to increase liquidity in the country’s economy. Until the economic crisis is addressed, and rising poverty stemmed, children will continue to suffer and it will be harder for humanitarian agencies to respond – including to disasters like this tragic earthquake.”
Save the Children has been supporting communities and protecting children's rights across Afghanistan since 1976, including during periods of conflict, regime change, and natural disasters. We have programmes in 9 provinces and work with partners in an additional six provinces.
Since the Taliban regained control in August 2021, we’ve been scaling up our response to support the increasing number of children in need. We’re delivering health, nutrition, education, child protection, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene and food security and livelihoods support.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
[i] Data from OCHA shows there are 247,097 people in the impacted districts of Barmal, Nika, Giyan and Ziruk (Paktika province) and the district of Spera (Khost province). The Afghanistan Ministry of Health says almost half of Afghanistan’s population, 48%, are children (Afghanistan National Health Accounts report, 2019). Thus, it can be estimated that there are approximately 118,607 children living in these provinces.
[ii] IPC figures for June – Nov 2022: https://www.ipcinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ipcinfo/docs/IPC_Afghanistan_AcuteFoodInsec_2022Mar_2022Nov_report.pdf