Our work overseas

Picking up the pieces and looking forward in Afghanistan

As families recover after the earthquake in the Eastern Provinces of Afghanistan, UNICEF continues to deliver long-term support

One month on from the devastating earthquake that shook Eastern Afghanistan. One month on from homes being destroyed and lives being lost. But with support from UNICEF and donors, communities have begun rebuilding and will be able to better prepare for the future.

Her hands were cold

Gulaba (pictured above) was sleeping peacefully, curled up next to her sister Mah Gul, when she was jolted awake to the weight of the whole house on her little body. She was trapped under stones, wood beams, bricks, and mud for five hours with her brothers, sisters and parents. It was more trauma than any 7-year old should bear.

©UNICEF/UN0662316/Bidel
©UNICEF/UN0662316/Bidel

"When I was under the house, I felt for my sister's hand beside me. Her hands were cold, but I kept calling to her softly: 'What happened to you, Mah Gul?' And she did not answer."

After five hours, neighbours managed to pull Gulaba and her family out from under the rubble.

"I was pulled out from under the rafters, and I saw a white blanket thrown over my sister. I was scared and shaking, and my father hugged me.”

Gulaba’s big, warm family of 12 had become 11. Her older sister, 10-year-old Mah Gul, had sadly died in the collapse.

Gulaba, terrified and barely understanding what had happened, developed a high fever after the earthquake. The only available healthcare in the remote district is through mobile clinics, which UNICEF supports with medical supplies, tents where the sick and injured can seek treatment, and trained medical professionals. Over 30 metric tonnes of medical supplies had been delivered to affected areas, and more than 4,790 people – including Gulaba - were treated for injuries and trauma in the following days.

UNICEF also supports several child-friendly spaces in the earthquake-affected districts, where children like Gulaba can play with friends seeking comfort while trained workers help them through their trauma. UNICEF supported social workers and counsellors found that most children were traumatised and needed psychosocial support to cope with the loss they experienced.

©UNICEF/UN0665304/Bidel
©UNICEF/UN0665304/Bidel

Zarghuneh, 10, claps along to a song while playing with friends in a UNICEF-supported child-friendly space in Gayan District, Paktika Province, Afghanistan.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, UNICEF will continue to work with partners to deliver humanitarian aid – not just to those impacted by the earthquake, but for children and families right across the country.

UNICEF’s work in Afghanistan beyond disaster relief

Right now, children in Afghanistan are facing a deadly and complex crisis. The mix of conflict, COVID-19, drought, malnutrition, and now natural disaster - means children are barely clinging on for survival.

Our work ahead in 2022
Our work ahead in 2022

UNICEF is on the ground in Afghanistan aiming to reach every child who needs us. And we’ve been in Afghanistan for over 70 years. We were able to start delivering emergency supplies within hours of the earthquake – only by already having a strong presence in Afghanistan and having pre-positioned supplies around the country. And because of our commitment to remain in the country, we plan on helping as many children as possible live better, healthier lives in the long-term.

Our work in Afghanistan is only possible thanks to receiving regular donations from amazing UNICEF donors. If you’d like to support UNICEF in Afghanistan, please consider making a donation today.