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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - GENEVA — UN agencies are appealing for urgent funds to assist the hundreds of thousands affected by deadly earthquakes in western Afghanistan.
The region was struck by two massive earthquakes on Saturday, followed a series of aftershocks, including a major one on Wednesday that flattened several homes spared by the original quake.
Women and children make up over 90 percent of the victims, according to UN agencies.
Making matters worse, on Thursday, a dust storm struck many affected villages destroying hundreds of tents, including many at the Gazergah Transit Centre, where many displaced families were sheltering.
Families impacted were moved from the Centre to a school in Herat city where they will require food and non-food relief items, according to UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday launched a $14.4 million humanitarian appeal to provide shelters, heaters and warm clothes to survivors sleeping out in the open, ahead of the approaching bitter winter.
The UN agency will also provide legal assistance and counselling, including helping recover and process key documents so that households, including refugees and internally displaced returnees, can exercise their civil rights.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued an initial appeal earlier this week for $20 million to deliver emergency and trauma care for newborns and children, repair schools and healthcare facilities, and provide psychosocial and mental health support to children and families.
According to the UN agency, communities in the region were already reeling from the effects of years of conflict, insecurity and climate-induced disasters.
“These deprivations have now collided, creating an unprecedented humanitarian emergency for children,” said Rushnan Murtaza, acting UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan.
“UNICEF and our partners have been on the ground since day one, providing life-saving assistance for children, but we need additional support to bring children the healthcare, protection, and clean water they desperately need.”
UN agencies and partners, meanwhile, continue relief efforts and assess the scale of damage, following Wednesday’s aftershock.
OCHA said that damage to heath facilities is of particular concern, as over 580,000 people have been cut off from medical care. Several schools have also sustained damage and are not operational.
In response, the UN World Food Program (WFP) supplied over 95 tons of food rations and food commodities to thousands of affected people, while UNICEF, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) delivered shelter, food and non-food assistance to over 550 families in 15 affected villages. — UN News
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