UNICEF: 100,000 Afghan children in urgent need after Herat earthquakes

Nearly 100,000 children in Afghanistan require urgent support three months following devastating earthquakes in the country’s west, UNICEF reported on Monday.

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Herat province on Oct. 7, followed by another significant quake on Oct. 11, resulting in over 1,000 fatalities. Zinda Jan and Injil districts were heavily impacted, with a majority of the victims being women and children. Approximately 21,000 homes were destroyed, according to a UNICEF statement.

“The suffering in these villages is palpable, even 100 days post-earthquakes in western Afghanistan. Families have lost everything,” said Fran Equiza, UNICEF representative in Afghanistan. “Children are grappling with loss and trauma, with many schools and health centers either severely damaged or completely destroyed.”

UNICEF urgently requires $1.4 billion in 2024 to address the humanitarian and basic needs of 19.4 million Afghans, constituting half of the country’s population.

Naymah, a resident of Herat and mother of seven, shared her plight of spending the winter in a makeshift tent after losing her home in the earthquake. The cold weather poses a significant challenge, especially with a lack of warm clothing for her children.

“They lack proper clothes in this cold. Everything was destroyed in the earthquake, including our solar panels. We lost everything, and now we don’t have fuel or clothes for our children,” she said.

Several families affected by the earthquakes expressed that despite living in harsh conditions, they have not received sufficient aid.

Nafisa, another earthquake victim, lamented the lack of heaters and solar panels. “No one has provided these to us,” she said.

A local resident added, “Our children don’t have enough clothes for the cold. We have a small heater but no fuel, which we desperately need.”

UNICEF’s statistics reveal that the earthquakes in Herat led to the destruction of 21,000 homes, with many families suffering human casualties and losing livestock and agricultural land.