Deadly earthquake hits crises-riddled Afghanistan

Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers have been deployed from local branches for immediate response and assessments.

Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers have been deployed from local branches for immediate response and assessments.

Photo: Afghan Red Crescent Society

The Afghan Red Crescent, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has mobilised to support communities affected by a deadly 5.9 magnitude earthquake which struck the south-East region of Afghanistan early morning Wednesday 22 June.

Based on initial reports, at least 1000 people have been killed, with the number of casualties expected to increase as rescuers reach hardest-hit villages where people remain trapped in rubble. Remote districts in the provinces of Khost and Paktika have been most affected.

Afghan Red Crescent staff and volunteers from affected communities were among the first responders working alongside local authorities and other humanitarian organisations. Additional teams have been deployed from Kabul and neighbouring provinces to boost the speed of assistance.

Furthermore, food supplies, non-food items and medicines that were in stock have been redirected to areas hardest hit by the quake to address immediate needs.

Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said:

“This latest earthquake is another horrific tragedy for Afghanistan, as if there were not enough. It struck in a grim backdrop where more than 50 per cent of our people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due a combination of catastrophic crises.”

“It is heartbreaking to see such human suffering among people who were already struggling to recover from effects of decades of conflict, severe drought, flooding, and extreme economic hardship among other shocks.”

Afghan Red Crescent trucks with relief items and medicines as well as ambulances have been dispatched to the affected areas. These will complement mobile health teams that were already operational in Paktika, of which some have been redirected to address immediate needs resulting from the earthquake.

Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said:

“Local responders and institutions have played a critical role in saving lives of thousands who would otherwise still be trapped in rubble. Strengthening local preparedness capacity is the surest and quickest way to an effective response."

“We only recently revised our Emergency Appeal to increase emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance in almost all province of Afghanistan which are battling a cocktail of catastrophic humanitarian crises. Following the deadly earthquake, we will have to scale up further our operations in Khost and Paktika.”

The IFRC has released 750,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in support of a timely response by the Afghan Red Crescent. Increased global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance is needed.

As part of its ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 90 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. This includes an extra 10 million Swiss francs to address the needs wrought by the quake.

For more information or to arrange interviews:

In Geneva: Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, Director A.I, Communications Department, Mob: +41 (0)79 213 24 13, Email: [email protected]

In Asia/Pacific: Rachel Punitha, Manager A.I., Communications, Mob: +60 19 791 3830,
Email: [email protected]