Our work overseas

Afghanistan Earthquake: Thousands of children at risk and in need of emergency aid

In the early hours of June 22nd, while villagers were asleep, a powerful 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit the rural provinces of East Afghanistan.

The violent earthquake shattered homes leaving children and families scrambling for their loved ones in the aftermath of concrete rubble, mud, and dust. As the scale of the devastation continues to unfold one thing is clear, more emergency aid is needed to keep up with the increasing demand.  

UNICEF/UN0660917/Bidel
UNICEF/UN0660917/Bidel

Many infants and children like one-year-old Maryam were pulled from the rubble of her collapsed home in Paktika, one of the hardest-hit provinces in the region. 

Her father Mohammad Akbar anxiously waits for her recovery by her side.   

Sadly, Maryam’s story is similar to many other children found amongst the wreckage. Ten-year-old Zalmay was trapped under the crumbled walls of his house. This photo was taken two days after the earthquake when his father and relatives managed to dig him out from under the debris. 

UNICEF/UN0660908/Bidel
UNICEF/UN0660908/Bidel

At least 1036 people have been reported killed and more than 1643 have been reported injured so far. At least 121 of these deaths have been children and 67 of those injured are children.  

While search and rescue efforts are ongoing, they have been hampered by heavy rain, wind, and landslides. Overall the number of affected children is still not confirmed. 

It’s a heartbreaking reminder, that for many young children in the region, the destruction is yet another tragedy on top of an already severe and complex economic crisis. With children and infants already having to live through war, COVID-19, drought, and malnutrition. Now with a natural disaster, there are even more urgent concerns for their survival.   

UNICEF Afghanistan/UN0660387
UNICEF Afghanistan/UN0660387

For several thousand families, homes have been destroyed and left in ruins.  

UNICEF/UN0661902/Nazari
UNICEF/UN0661902/Nazari

Seven-year-old Ayesha was captured walking the streets of Loy Gayan Village in the Gayan District. She is the sole survivor of her family after the devastating earthquake toppled her home. 

 And, although eight-year-old Halim still has his family, he still lost his home and many other relatives to the earthquake. Halim and his family have found shelter under plastic sheets which they have been sleeping under.  

©UNICEF/UN0660498/Nazari
©UNICEF/UN0660498/Nazari

Thanks to the donations we receive from our regular donors, UNICEF was already working on the ground providing critical aid for the other crises when the earthquake hit. That means we were able to provide immediate life-saving medical care.   

Our teams also sprang into action distributing emergency supplies from UNICEF’s warehouse in Paktika. In an aftermath like this, a range of various supplies has been needed such as kitchen equipment, hygiene supplies, detergent, towels, sanitary pads, water buckets, warm clothes, shoes, and blankets, as well as tents and tarpaulins.  

Clean water and sanitation supplies are also essential as there is a heightened risk of children becoming sick. 

©UNICEF Afghanistan/UN0660832
©UNICEF Afghanistan/UN0660832

 As the picture unfolds, we’ll need to meet the increasing demand for medical and emergency supplies. So, we still need your help. Your support will mean children in Afghanistan will have access to immediate on-the-ground emergency supplies as well as long-term response and recovery efforts that provide life-saving services and a future of hope.  

UNICEF has been on the ground in Afghanistan for 65 years providing essential aid in the war-torn country and we're not going anywhere. We have a presence in every region of Afghanistan, including 11 offices operating across the country. Combined with our staff, volunteers, and network of partners on the ground, these offices enable us to reach children in need, wherever they are.  

To donate please head over to our Afghanistan Earthquake Emergency appeal page.