On June 22, 2022, a devastating earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan, killing more than 1,000 people and more than 1,500 injured, according to the country’s state-run media.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the 5.9-magnitude earthquake took place at around 1:30 am, local time, and was felt across most of the country and also Pakistan. It was Afghanistan’s deadliest earthquake in over twenty years.
According to ABC News, the earthquake devastated hundreds of homes and other buildings and resulted in a near-total power outage. The most affected villages are located in remote areas with little to no access to outside resources or communication. The entire country had already been experiencing an uptick in severe poverty and hunger, especially since the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s government in 2021.
Since then, other countries, humanitarian organizations, and independent aid agencies are hesitant to offer assistance to the government itself, as no other country has recognized it as an official power.
What are the challenges in responding to the disaster in Afghanistan?
Under these circumstances (which are only expected to worsen as the death count increases) it is difficult to know how to help this humanitarian crisis, even though the need for external aid is clear and dire.
Haibatullah Akhundzadah, the Taliban’s supreme leader, called for “the international community and all humanitarian organizations to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort to help the affected people.” However, questions remain about how best to approach such a tumultuous situation for a nation in untrustworthy and questionable hands.
The Afghanistan Ministry of Defense reports that for the past week, rescue teams have sent out helicopters as well as people on the ground to help search for survivors and transport the injured to health centers.
In a press release, UNICEF stated that “the de facto authorities have requested the support of UNICEF and other UN agency teams who are joining efforts to assess the situation and respond to the needs of the affected communities.”
Mohammad Qadam Shah, an expert in aid in Afghanistan and an assistant professor of global development at Seattle Pacific University shared his qualms with The Conversation about allocating financial aid and resources directly to the Taliban.
He writes “If money does arrive to assist with relief efforts tied to the earthquake, I believe there’s no guarantee it wouldn’t be used for terrorist activities.”
However, the UN is appealing to donor nations to fund its operations there, and a couple of weeks prior to this natural disaster, the World Bank announced a US$793 million in funding to boost access to food and medical fair. The bank says the money will not pass through the hands of the Taliban administration, and will instead be distributed “through United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations.”
Where should we donate our funds?
To help those affected by the disaster, here are some reliable and trustworthy organizations to send your financial support to.
Afghan Crisis Appeal is an Islamic Relief response team currently situated in Paktika province, the most affected area. It will provide food, monetary aid, and shelter to those in need.
UNICEF, The United Nations agency, has sent over many mobile health and nutrition teams to offer first aid to people injured in the earthquake. It is also distributing critical aid such as kitchen equipment, hygiene supplies, warm clothes, shoes, blankets, tents, and more to the people who need them most.
OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is delivering medical supplies like health kits, surgical kits, and medicine, to help treat the injured and save as many lives as possible.
International Medical Corps has been on the ground giving trauma care to affected people.
World Food Program USA is actively supporting the United Nations World Food Program’s aid efforts not the ground in Afghanistan. They plan to carry emergency supplies and food to at least 3,000 households, with the hopes of expanding their reach as donations continue to pour in.