Authorities have confirmed over 2000 casualties following a devastating earthquake that hit northwestern Afghanistan’s Herat province. Two 6.3-magnitude earthquakes hit several districts on Saturday, followed by 7 tremors, causing mud-brick homes to collapse. Thousands of people have since been sleeping outside in freezing temperatures to protect themselves from aftershocks that could destroy their homes. Several villages have been reduced to rubble with the count of fatalities and injuries continuing to climb.
Aid workers on Sunday encountered devastating effects from the earthquake: people’s homes destroyed, entire families killed, and hospitals and clinics overwhelmed with injured people – hospitals and clinics that were already close to collapsing due to lack of funding. The earthquakes are one the deadliest disasters Afghanistan has seen in decades and recently, the country has grappled with flooding and mudslides too. The earthquakes and other disasters have exacerbated the precarious humanitarian aid situation and economic crisis caused by the takeover of the government in Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2021.
The consequent disappearance of millions of jobs have led to almost half of the population’s 39 million people facing severe hunger and 3 million on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations World Food Program. The Taliban released edicts earlier this year to prevent women from working for NGOs and delivering much-needed aid. Aid money has begun to peter out as the world’s attention goes elsewhere and the Taliban’s gender apartheid policies against women have led to calls to stop funding the country entirely.
Taliban officials claim to be directing military and service organizations to help those injured and provide food and shelter to remote areas but volunteers shared that “little” if any aid had been received from the Taliban. Distribution of tents and blankets in Herat only begins to scratch at the surface of people’s needs.
CNN 10/08/2023; NYTimes 10/08/2023