After the devastating series of earthquakes in Afghanistan, hope is dwindling. On Monday, people tried to clear the rubble with their bare hands and with shovels and pickaxes. At the same time, further quakes startled residents in Herat province, near the border with Iran. According to the US Earthquake Observatory USGS, the strongest of three quakes on Monday had a magnitude of 5.1.
Meanwhile, the aid organization Care was concerned about women and girls in the affected regions. “Their freedom was already significantly restricted and they therefore have limited access to essential life-saving services,” said Reshma Azmi, deputy country director of Care Afghanistan.
Concerns about women and girls
The Taliban have been back in power in Afghanistan for more than two years. The country is politically isolated internationally because of its repressive policies, which primarily discriminate against women and girls.
On Saturday morning, several earthquakes startled the residents of the Afghan border province of Herat near Iran. Within just a few hours, the earth shook nine times and more than a dozen villages were largely destroyed. The military and rescue services rushed to the disaster areas. According to the US Earthquake Observatory USGS, the two strongest quakes had a magnitude of 6.3.
According to the Afghan broadcaster Tolonews, at least 2,400 people have died so far, and the UN emergency relief office OCHA said there were more than 1,000 deaths. A spokesman for the NDMA civil protection agency expressed concern on Monday that the number of victims could rise even further as the situation was still unclear. 20 villages and around 2,000 houses were completely destroyed. In addition to numerous rescue teams, a high-ranking Taliban delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar also arrived in the earthquake areas.
Many buildings are not earthquake-proof
The United Nations released five million dollars (4.7 million euros) in emergency aid and, after assessing the needs, announced an appeal for donations soon. Accordingly, more than 11,000 people were affected by the earthquake. Germany pledged five million euros. The Federal Foreign Office announced on Monday on X, formerly Twitter, that the aid money would be made available through the humanitarian fund for Afghanistan. This is intended to support the activities of aid organizations such as Caritas, Save the Children, World Vision, but also the humanitarian work of the UN authorities in the country.
The worst destruction occurred northwest of Herat in Sindajan district. The Tolonews broadcaster reported that 80 percent of the population in a single village died. A shepherd told the station that he had been herding sheep outside the village during the earthquake. When he returned, eight members of his family were dead. "My father, my mother, my brothers and my sisters with their children, they were all here," he said.
The quakes bring back memories of the devastating disaster last summer, when more than 1,000 people were killed in an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 in the east of the country. After decades of conflict, many villages with simple construction are ill-equipped to deal with earthquakes.
Severe earthquakes occur again and again in the region, especially in the Hindu Kush, where the Indian and Eurasian plates meet.