Crisis upon crisis: Devastating earthquakes strike Afghanistan as IFRC calls for urgent support

Afghan Red Crescent Society volunteer provides aid to a child affected by the devastating earthquake in Herat province, Afghanistan. Photo: IFRC

Afghan Red Crescent Society volunteer provides aid to a child affected by the devastating earthquake in Herat province, Afghanistan.

Photo: IFRC

Kabul/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 12 October – Afghanistan faces an escalating humanitarian crisis following a devastating series of earthquakes. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urgently reiterates its call for immediate action and international support, emphasizing that an existing appeal for 120 million Swiss Francs remains critically underfunded, with only 36 percent raised.

The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), in coordination with the IFRC and other partner Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, was among the first to respond. Their rapid interventions included emergency medical aid, essential non-food supplies, temporary shelter and rescue operations in the affected provinces.

Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, the Afghan Red Crescent Society Acting President, said:

"The situation in the country is already extremely dire. People were just starting to recover when another series of massive earthquakes hit us, all within less than a week. On top of that, winter is coming, and there's an urgent need for shelter, food and healthcare."

The earthquakes hit the western part of Afghanistan, and primarily affected Badghis, Ghor, and especially Herat, registering a magnitude of 6.3. Sadly, another earthquake of the same magnitude followed four days later, causing further destruction and loss of lives. These events resulted in significant casualties, destroyed homes, and displaced many individuals. This catastrophe exacerbates Afghanistan's existing humanitarian crises of severe drought and economic hardship.

Speaking from the backdrop of his visit to the affected parts of Herat this week, Alexander Matheou, IFRC Regional Director for Asia Pacific, remarked:

“What we are seeing on the ground is a chilling scene: three affected villages which I visited two days ago have been reduced to absolute rubble, with not a single house left standing. Our teams on the ground say this is the picture in several other villages. These early observations underscore that the full extent of the damage is yet to be realized.”

"The Afghan Red Crescent Society's tireless efforts in this catastrophic situation cannot be overstated. They've been first responders, reaching affected areas swiftly and delivering crucial assistance. We have managed to redirect essential supplies and mobile health facilities to the most impacted areas within a day, thanks to our network of trained volunteers and responders.”

Immediate needs include food aid, cash assistance, emergency shelter and household items. There is also a focus on emergency health care, mental support and clean water and sanitation. Further assessments are ongoing to determine the disaster's entire impact and to strategize for emerging needs like shelter repair, livelihood recovery, and facility rehabilitation.

Alexander Matheou added: 

“The full scale of the tragedy is still unfolding, and international support is urgently needed. Afghanistan can't be a footnote in a world already grappling with multiple crises. Every contribution counts, especially now, when our resources are already stretched to their limits." 

In light of the growing demands, the IFRC is revising its appeal for 120 million Swiss Francs to aid the ongoing efforts of the Afghan Red Crescent Society. Currently, this appeal remains severely underfunded, with only 36 percent of the required funds raised. Contributions can be made through participating national societies or directly via the IFRC website. 

More information 

To request an interview, please contact: [email protected]  

In Afghanistan: 

Mir Abdul Tawab Razavy: +93 747 407 027

In Kuala Lumpur:

Afrhill Rances: +60 192 713 641 

In Geneva:

Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06 

Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67 

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