Afghanistan earthquake victims face struggles getting aid

Jun 24, 2022, 7:02 AM | Updated: 7:22 am

Getting donations to Afghanistan earthquake victims will be far more difficult compared with other disasters due to sanctions against the country’s Taliban government and its troubled relationship with Western nations, experts say.

International groups that maintained operations in the country following the collapse of its government last year have rushed to eastern Afghanistan to coordinate aid in the region. The country’s state-run news agency reported that Wednesday’s 6.1-magnitude quake killed at least 1,000 and injured at least 1,500 more.

Already, the humanitarian response – which typically surges in the first 72 hours following an earthquake – has lagged in both size and speed due to the lack of pre-positioned supplies and the level of hunger and poverty that already exist in Afghanistan. Heavy rains and winds have also hampered rescue efforts.

“The challenge in Afghanistan is that it’s not just one thing,” said Patricia McIlreavy, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. “It’s layer upon layer of different issues that impact you and your response and can vary according to what population you’re serving and what part of the country you’re working in.”

Many governments and philanthropic donors will not give funds directly to the Taliban-run government. Those sending aid to the country are hampered by the lack of regular flights into Kabul, the nation’s capital, as well as customs delays once donations land there. Humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief says its shipment of 1 million doses of donated prenatal vitamins is still being held by customs weeks after it arrived in the country.

To show that aid for earthquake victims is welcome, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, who almost never appears in public, asked the international community and humanitarian organizations “to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort.”

Daniel Hovey, Direct Relief’s director of emergency response, said the request is a sign of major change.

“That is the first time the Taliban has asked for foreign assistance,” Hovey said. “Prior to that, they’ve really wanted to keep a lot of the Western NGOs out because of a lack of trust for Western ideologies. But now it should open up some doors, as there’s been some complications with customs and other things for humanitarian aid.”

Because there are a limited number of humanitarian organizations still operating in Afghanistan, many nonprofits like Direct Relief are currently waiting to hear from organizations already on the ground about the needs they can help address. Direct Relief says it has offered the World Health Organization’s Afghanistan office emergency medicines and supplies needed for trauma care.

The WHO Afghanistan office tweeted that its teams have already reached a hospital in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, near the epicenter of the earthquake, and that 10 tons of medical supplies are in transit to the region.

UNICEF says it has dispatched several mobile health and nutrition teams to provide first aid to those who are injured, adding that it will also provide tents, blankets, kitchen equipment, clothing, and hygiene supplies. Other United Nations teams are also on site to assess needs in Paktika.

The World Food Programme reported it has sent at least 18 trucks carrying emergency supplies to the area near the quake’s epicenter. It plans to initially provide emergency food to 3,000 households.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a prepared statement that the United States is the largest donor of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and its humanitarian partners are already delivering medical care and shelter supplies to the area. Sullivan said President Joe Biden has directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess further U.S. response options.

For those looking to donate to help those affected by the Afghanistan earthquake, McIlreavy, of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, said focusing on groups currently working in Afghanistan would be important. She said those groups will likely be reallocating their resources from other areas into Afghanistan and then depending on increased donations to replenish those resources.

“Organizations who left Afghanistan are unlikely to return,” she said. “You will be looking at those organizations who have already determined that they will work within the environment that exists, that have the ability to navigate the Afghan government and the parameters of the crisis. Those same organizations will now be asked to do more.”

Encouraging donations to disaster victims in complex political situations can often be more difficult, McIlreavy said.

“The challenge for all of us is if we truly care about humanity, we need to be able to diminish the blame-the-victim mindset we often have for complex emergencies,” she said. “Put the people at the center of the thinking rather than our judgments on the government and the political situation.”


Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and non-profits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jers...

Associated Press

3rd Republican presidential debate is set for Nov. 8 in Miami, with the strictest qualifications yet

The third Republican presidential debate will be held in Miami on Nov. 8, a day after several states hold off-year elections.

4 days ago

During the equinox, the Earth’s axis and its orbit line up so that both hemispheres get an equal ...

Associated Press

The fall equinox is here. What does that mean?

The equinox arrives on Saturday, marking the start of the fall season for the Northern Hemisphere. But what does that actually mean?

4 days ago

Ray Epps Ray Epps, an Arizona man who became the center of a conspiracy theory about Jan. 6, 2021, ...

Associated Press

Ray Epps, an Arizona man who supported Trump, pleads guilty to Capital riot charge

Ray Epps, the target of a conspiracy theory about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge.

6 days ago

Former President Donald Trump repeatedly declined in an interview aired Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, to ...

Associated Press

Trump refuses to say in a TV interview how he watched the Jan. 6 attack unfold at the US Capitol

Former President Donald Trump repeatedly declined in an interview aired Sunday to answer questions about whether he watched the Capitol riot.

9 days ago

This frame grab from video, provided by the Mexican government, shows Ovidio Guzman Lopez being det...

Associated Press

Mexico extradites son of ‘El Chapo,’ Ovidio Guzman Lopez to US

The son of notorious cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, Ovidio Guzman Lopez was extradited to the U.S. on Friday.

10 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Schwartz Laser Eye Center

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford...

Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford congratulates D-backs’ on drive to great first half of 2023

The Arizona Diamondbacks just completed a red-hot first half of the major league season, and Sanderson Ford wants to send its congratulations to the ballclub.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

Afghanistan earthquake victims face struggles getting aid