The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has issued an urgent appeal for $14.4 million to expand its assistance efforts for those affected by the recent devastating earthquakes in western Afghanistan. The earthquakes, striking the province of Herat, have left hundreds of thousands in urgent need of assistance, with over one thousand reported dead and many more injured. These figures are expected to rise as the full extent of the disaster unfolds.
Many survivors, mourning lost loved ones, find themselves without shelter, forced to sleep outdoors due to the complete destruction of their mud houses. The UNHCR underscores the critical need for immediate humanitarian aid to prevent further tragedy and address the pressing needs of the affected population.
Immediate requirements include emergency shelters, heaters, kitchen sets, clean water, food, and warm clothing, especially considering the approaching harsh winter months. Vulnerable groups, particularly women and children, are among the hardest hit. To alleviate the strain on overcrowded hospitals treating earthquake survivors, the UNHCR plans to provide Refugee Housing Units (RHUs).
With more than 35 years of presence in Afghanistan, the UNHCR is collaborating closely with national and international partners to contribute to the inter-agency humanitarian response. The agency's teams, on the ground since the onset of the crisis, are expanding their efforts to deliver essential relief items like tents, blankets, solar lamps, and hygiene kits to those displaced and left with nothing.
In addition to immediate assistance, UNHCR aims to identify and support people with special needs, including those with disabilities, older individuals, and households headed by children or women. Plans are in place to provide psychosocial and cash support, legal assistance, and counseling, with a focus on orphaned, separated, or unaccompanied children. The agency emphasizes the importance of urgent international support to aid those affected by the earthquake, particularly in preparation for the impending harsh winter conditions.