GENEVA – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply saddened to see the tragic aftermath of this morning’s deadly earthquake in Afghanistan. Reports suggest that so far nearly 1,000 people have died and more are injured amid large-scale destruction.
UNHCR has deployed staff to the most affected areas in Pakitika and Khost provinces from its field office in Gardez. Currently the focus is on search and rescue operations to find survivors. There are fears that more lives could be lost if survivors are not reached urgently in remote parts of the country.
Interim authorities have appealed for immediate humanitarian assistance and UNHCR is rushing supplies and staff to assist the affected people, working with other humanitarian partners.
“It is heart-breaking to see this tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan on top of the ongoing humanitarian crisis that Afghans are going through every day,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “I convey my deepest sympathies to the people of Afghanistan and especially those who have lost friends and family in this horrific natural disaster. UNHCR stands with Afghans at this difficult time and will make all efforts to provide relief to those affected.”
Afghanistan is going through a dire humanitarian crisis with some 3.5 million people displaced inside the country. Millions of others are struggling to survive amid rising levels of poverty and hunger, with social services under immense strain.
“This tragedy highlights once again that Afghans need and deserve the world’s solidarity and support,” Grandi added.
UNHCR has worked with Afghans for the last four decades inside Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Nearly one million displaced Afghans and host communities have been assisted with aid since January this year.
All UNHCR staff in the country are accounted for.