Helping Afghanistan Recover from Earthquakes
On June 22, 2022, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake devastated eastern Afghanistan. An aftershock struck the same area, temporarily stopping all aid and recovery efforts on June 24. The earthquakes took the lives of approximately 1,000 people and destroyed nearly 10,000 houses, a number that poor rural infrastructure in Afghanistan exacerbated. The immediate danger stemming from the earthquake has now subsided and hundreds of thousands of Afghans still desperately need medical attention, shelter and aid. Fortunately, the international community has met the call to action. Here are four ways the international community is helping Afghanistan recover from its deadly earthquakes.
Several countries and organizations have sent temporary shelters to Afghanistan. Poor rural infrastructure, with many people living in mud homes, characterizes much of the affected portion of Afghanistan. On June 23, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) delivered 600 tents, 4,200 blankets and 1,200 plastic sheets to the country alongside other household supplies such as buckets and solar lamps. The U.S. announced on June 28 that it will be delivering temporary shelters to the country, though it has not disclosed the quantity. In all, the U.S. will send temporary shelters alongside water collection vessels, blankets, lamps, pots and clothes.
Now that the immediate danger of the earthquake has passed and rescue efforts have concluded, the difficult task of treating survivors and dealing with the medical fallout associated with temporary shelters and natural disaster aftermath begins. The already overburdened medical system in Afghanistan, with many hospitals being understaffed or outright closed due to a lack of supplies and personnel, has made the situation worse. Neighboring countries, the United States, UNHCR and the World Health Organization (WHO) are helping Afghanistan by delivering medical supplies.
On June 22, hours after the initial earthquake, WHO sent 10 tonnes of medical equipment to the region, enough to perform 5,400 surgeries and treat an estimated 36,000 people. In addition to treating survivors, much of the medical equipment will go towards preventative measures. The population of East Afghanistan is in severe danger of waterborne illness in the coming weeks and months. To counter this, much of the supplies that UNHCR and the United States sent come in the form of sanitation, hygiene and water supplies.
Workers on the Ground
UNHCR deployed several exports to Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. The workers helped set up shelters and supply food and household goods to some 4,200 survivors. Further, additional teams from UNHCR have worked to set up supply hubs in three separate districts in east Afghanistan to facilitate rapid aid delivery. The World Health Organization sent eight ambulances and 20 medical teams alongside medical supplies on June 22.
The government of Afghanistan may have some difficulties in receiving financial aid from citizens of the world as well as some countries due to the heavy sanctions that the United States imposed on them. Donations to crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe cannot transfer to Afghanistan banks for that very reason. The U.S. announced on June 28, that it will provide $55 million in aid, some of which is purely financial. However, there have been several calls for the United States to unfreeze some Afghan assets in order to facilitate humanitarian relief. The government of South Korea pledged on June 23, financial support totaling $1 million to help Afghanistan recover from its deadly earthquake.
Efforts in helping Afghanistan recover from its deadly earthquakes are well underway. Delivery of medical supplies, temporary shelters, household goods and financial aid have been plentiful and will continue to ease the suffering of thousands of Afghans. Additional help on the ground from UNHCR and other agencies has also sped up the recovery process while keeping victims of the earthquakes safe. Despite this, the recovery will remain a long and arduous task. Fortunately, the international community has thus far been sufficient in providing aid and shows no signs of stopping.
– Benjamin Brown