Afghanistan Earthquake Response
Relief Efforts Intensify in Paktika
For the past week and more, HAGAR has been on the ground providing urgent medical care for victims of Afghanistan’s worst earthquake in 20 years. Our work is concentrated in the Gayan district of Paktika, an already impoverished region severely hit by the earthquake. “The impact is unbelievable,” our Hagar Afghanistan staff on the ground described. Fortunately, other aid organisations have joined humanitarian efforts over the last couple of days, reducing pressure on HAGAR being the only NGO at the site.
The numbers of children orphaned by the earthquake continue to rise rapidly. Children have become extremely vulnerable following the earthquake, losing their families, houses and schools overnight. Crowds of children have gathered on the streets as they no longer have a school to attend. These vulnerable orphans are severely at risk of abuse, hunger and total destitution.
Following our HAGAR team’s disaster risk assessment and ongoing discussions with other NGOs, government agencies and community leaders, it is evident that the need for psychosocial support is critically important to help these child survivors recover from trauma.
At this point, our Hagar Afghanistan team have started setting up tents to house these children. In collaboration with Shelter Now International, HAGAR will run 2 child-friendly spaces, prioritising care for orphans and separated, unaccompanied children with no family members or neighbours to stay with. At least two child-friendly spaces will be set up to provide kids with the following critical services over the next 3 months:
- Psychosocial counselling and trauma therapy: HAGAR will deploy two experienced psychosocial counsellors to provide crucial counselling services. Where necessary, those suffering severe trauma will be referred for psychiatric intervention.
- Medical services: The delivery of medical care through our mobile clinic will continue to ensure that we reach survivors in remote areas.
- Food, water and sanitation: Children will receive daily meals. Mobile toilets will be set up to ensure health and hygiene.
- Education and recreation: This is an essential component of recovery for these kids; play therapy will also be introduced to help small children regulate their emotions and cope with their loss.
While the waves of challenges seem unending for the people in Afghanistan, our Hagar team in Afghanistan continue to press on and are deeply thankful to all HAGAR donors whose critical assistance has been so invaluable in these challenging times.
Our Executive Director of Hagar Afghanistan, Jan De Waal stressed the importance of HAGAR’s timely response to the disaster:
“Yesterday our team passed some roadside villages again. The people recognised Hagar, and they said how much they appreciated… They never once got the attention and care that they did in that two days. In the onset of a disaster, the first two days are always a window period of total chaos. And we were there.”
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