World Vision is deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan in the wake of a powerful earthquake in the early hours of this morning.
The 6.1-magnitude earthquake has devastated two South-Eastern Provinces of Afghanistan, Paktika and Khost, and has killed nearly 1,000 people so far.
World Vision is one of the leading aid agencies working in the country and this latest disaster has prompted yet more concern for the plight of the Afghan people.
World Vision New Zealand National Director, Grant Bayldon, says Afghanistan is already grappling with mass starvation and economic collapse.
More than half of Afghanistan’s population is living in poverty and more than 20 million people struggle with food insecurity.
"We are deeply concerned about the devastation that this earthquake causes in a country already in the grips of extreme poverty, drought and a worsening political, economic and security situation. This will further impact hundreds of thousands of already vulnerable people Afghanistan and add to their suffering," Bayldon says.
He says the death and injury toll is likely to rise in the coming days and World Vision is also concerned about the capacity of the local healthcare system to cope. Helicopters are currently working to carry the injured people to hospitals located in other provinces.
"The already limited capacity of Afghanistan's healthcare system is a huge worry. The hospitals and medical centres are inundated with patients injured by today's earthquake,” he says.
Bayldon says although World Vision doesn’t work directly in the area affected, it is calling on the international community to rapidly scale funding and operational support for continued lifesaving work.
“World Vision’s work is focused on the west of the country where we are delivering emergency food assistance to keep hundreds of thousands of people alive. However, we know that children in Afghanistan face multiple challenges which require increased funding support. We pray for the children caught up in this terrible earthquake and for those rushing to their aid."