Present in Afghanistan since 1987, Humanity & Inclusion is supporting the victims of the violent earthquakes and aftershocks that struck the northwest of the country on October 7, 11 and 15. In addition to the rehabilitation care and psychological support provided to almost 900 people, HI is ensuring that resources are properly deployed to cope with the plummeting temperatures and wintry conditions.
Taibullah Taib, emergency specialist with HI's Afghanistan program, describes the situation near Herat.
Needs assessment: 400 villages affected
We began by working with our partners on the ground to use satellites to identify the areas affected by the earthquakes and their aftershocks, and through a joint need assessment led by UN-OCHA. HI was part of the joint assessment team. Humanitarian aid was then coordinated according to which organizations could respond to the needs identified. Today, we know that almost 400 villages were affected by the earthquakes and 12,000 homes were partially or totally destroyed. At this time of the year, with temperatures in the region rapidly, particularly at night, the communities living outdoors are in desperate need of assistance. Tents have been distributed, but a sandstorm on October 12 destroyed some of the shelters, so many people are still waiting for tents that can withstand winter conditions.
Priorities: rehabilitation, psychological support and essential goods
HI’s mobile teams have so far provided rehabilitation care for more than 800 people in Herat Hospital and in the villages. This includes post-operative care for injuries directly linked to the earthquakes to limit the risk of permanent disabilities, but also the supply of mobility aids (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.). As follow-up is crucial, HI is training people to provide care to injured family members.
Our teams have also provided psychosocial support to more than 730 people. Through individual or group sessions, they are helping survivors cope with the many traumas they have suffered: loss of loved ones, injuries, loss of property, deteriorated living conditions, and more.
Distribution of equipment and shelter
Finally, HI is providing logistical support through its Atlas Logistique division. At our warehouse in the Herat region, we are storing and protecting the resources of HI and the other humanitarian organizations responding to this emergency. This means aid can be distributed to communities on a daily basis, including hygiene kits and winter preparation kits. As the needs are huge, HI will be renting a second warehouse to increase storage capacity.
In the next few days, winter-proof tents and stoves will be distributed, as children and people with disabilities or injuries are particularly vulnerable to the cold.
60 members of the HI team mobilized
Since October 8, more than 60 members of the HI team have been helping people affected by the earthquakes:
- 22 physical therapists are on hand to provide rehabilitation care,
- 20 experts in psychosocial support are working with people traumatized by the events,
- 8 people specializing in risk education are running awareness-raising sessions on the risks of explosive devices,
- and 13 social workers are working alongside victims to provide support and assess their situation.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 19 October 2023.