United Nations (UN) and humanitarian partners concluded mission to earthquake-affected areas in Afghanistan and announces emergency response plan to deliver life-saving assistance to stricken communities.

he UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, has concluded a one-day mission to Mir Sahib and Khanadin in Giyan district, Paktika Province – one of the worst-affected areas following Wednesday’s devastating 5.9 magnitude earthquake.

The visit, which took place on Saturday, 25 June, also included representatives from UNHCR, IOM, WFP, WHO, UNICEF, UN Women, FAO and OCHA. While there, members of the delegation met with female and male members of the affected community, many of whom had lost family members and friends, including several orphaned and separated children, and whose homes are now uninhabitable.

“Yesterday’s visit reaffirmed to me both the extreme suffering of people in Afghanistan and their tremendous resolve in the face of great adversity,” said Dr. Alakbarov. “In addition to food assistance and emergency shelter and repair, interventions such as the restoration of damaged water pipes and cholera prevention and preparedness activities are absolutely vital, as are the restoration of communication lines, road access, and basic livelihoods. Without such transitional support, women, men, and children will continue to endure unnecessary and unimaginable hardship.”

With assessments ongoing, the full scale of Wednesday’s tragic events has yet to be uncovered. Initial findings from needs assessments show that in Giyan District alone at least 235 people were killed in Wednesday’s earthquake, including 134 children, and almost 600 injured, with children accounting for more than 200 of those wounded. In addition, more than 1,000 homes have been destroyed and two schools damaged.

Across all earthquake-affected areas, satellite imagery reveals damage to at least 2,000 homes which are more than 5km from a good road in the hardest hit areas of Giyan and Barmal districts in Paktika Province and Spera District in Khost Province. It is further estimated that tens of thousands of homes that are still standing have experienced extensive damage and risk collapsing.

Wednesday’s earthquake comes at a time when increased restrictions on women and girls have amplified their needs and complicated response efforts to assist them over the past few months.

Speaking in Giyan District, Alison Davidian, the Country Representative a.i. for UN Women said: “Women and girls are differentially affected by crisis. When their rights to move and work are restricted as they are in Afghanistan, they are disproportionately impacted, especially in accessing food, healthcare and safe shelter. As we move forward in addressing the needs of the earthquake-affected population, women humanitarian workers and women led civil society must be at the center of the crisis response. This is the only way to ensure the needs and rights of at-risk and crisis-affected women and girls are effectively identified and addressed.”

In response to the earthquake, the United Nations and humanitarian partners have developed a three-month multi-sectoral emergency appeal within the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan to scale up and expedite the delivery of humanitarian and resilience assistance to almost 362,000 affected people in Paktika and Khost provinces.

“Notwithstanding the phenomenal generosity that donors have already displayed to Afghanistan over these past tumultuous ten months, I urge the international community to dig deep at this time, as the population confronts yet another emergency, and to pledge support to these life-saving and life-sustaining efforts,” Dr. Alakbarov said.