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UN Aid Reaches Earthquake Victims

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29.10.2015 – UN agencies are working around the clock to bring assistance to local populations in Badakhshan Province in north-eastern Afghanistan and a large part of Pakistan, which were hit hard by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Monday 26th October.

According to the latest estimates, the quake, whose tremors were even felt in northern India, has resulted in almost 400 fatalities, with over 2,000 injuries. The figures are expected to rise over the next few days as aid workers manage to get access to remote areas in the Hindu Kush Mountains.

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Part of the quake-hit area is now inaccessible, which is difficult to reach even in ordinary circumstances, due to heavy rain and snow. Another major challenge is the unstable security situation. Many of the districts are held by the Taliban where the conflict is ongoing. In the past, aid groups have been targeted in Taliban-controlled areas, including WFP as recently as last September. However, the Taliban have pledged not to hinder relief operations and invited locals and charities “not to hold back in providing shelter, food and medical supplies to the victims”. 

UNICEF Regional Director of South Asia Karin Hulshof expressed particular concern for the wellbeing of children, the most vulnerable victims in every disaster. WHO confirmed the risk, especially for children and the elderly, of a wide range of diseases, such as waterborne diseases, malaria and dengue.picture 2

UN agencies are liaising with national health authorities, aid agencies and NGOs. Information is collected and aid and medical supplies are delivered. Thanks to the commitment of Afghanistan’s government, WHO was able to strengthen the emergency preparedness system, so that the local management of casualties is possible. Hospitals have sufficient medicines and supplies, also thanks to the delivery of trauma and basic health kits by WHO.

Earthquakes are recurrent in the region due to its location in an area where the India and Eurasia plates converge at a rate of about 40 mm per year. A major 7.6 magnitude quake struck Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 2005, killing more than 75,000 people. In April this year, Nepal was affected by the worst quake on record, which left 9,000 people dead.


Photo Credits:

•   Cover -  Photo: UNICEF

•   Maps: OCHA 

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