published : 2023-10-19

World Food Program Appeals for $19 Million to Aid Afghanistan After Powerful Earthquakes

Thousands of people died in western Afghanistan as a series of earthquakes, with a magnitude of 6.3, struck the region

A photo of Ana Maria Salhuana, Deputy Country Director of the World Food Program in Afghanistan, discussing emergency assistance strategies. (Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

The United Nations' World Food Program is urgently appealing for $19 million to provide emergency assistance to tens of thousands of people affected by a devastating series of earthquakes and aftershocks in western Afghanistan.

Ana Maria Salhuana, deputy country director of the World Food Program in Afghanistan, stated that they are supporting the survivors but require additional funding as they are already operating on limited resources.

The priority for the group is to provide emergency food assistance to 100,000 people in the affected region.

The World Food Program expressed deep concern, stating that communities already struggling with food scarcity are pushed further into destitution by disasters like these earthquakes.

On Sunday, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake rocked parts of western Afghanistan, compounding the already high death toll and destruction from major quakes the week before.

This latest quake, the fourth with a magnitude of 6.3 in just over a week, was centered outside the city of Herat in Herat province.

Aerial view of the devastated villages in Herat province after the destructive earthquakes. (Taken with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro)

The initial earthquakes on October 7 left entire villages flattened in Herat province, making them some of the most destructive quakes in recent Afghan history.

In response to the initial earthquakes, the World Food Program immediately distributed fortified biscuits, pulses, and other food supplies to affected families in the destroyed villages.

The group reported that an estimated 25,000 buildings have been destroyed, leaving survivors homeless and fearful of further earthquakes and aftershocks.

U.N. officials stated that more than 90% of the people killed were women and children, as the quakes occurred during the daytime when many men were working outdoors.

Taliban officials reported that over 2,000 people were killed across the province by the earlier quakes, with the most severe casualties and damage concentrated in Zenda Jan district.

With winter approaching, the World Food Program highlighted that affected families will need assistance for months to come.

Children receiving emergency food assistance from the World Food Program in western Afghanistan. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

In addition to addressing the immediate emergency response, the group aims to implement resilience programs in the long term, enabling vulnerable communities to rebuild their livelihoods.

Earlier this year, the World Food Program had to reduce food assistance and cut off 10 million people in Afghanistan due to funding shortages.

Aside from earthquake response, the organization also needs $400 million to prepare food supplies before winter, when communities become isolated due to snow and landslides, with a particular focus on women who are facing increasing marginalization in public life.

Earthquakes are frequent in Afghanistan, given the presence of fault lines and movement among the nearby tectonic plates.