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SCIAF reaches out to Afghan Earthquake survivors

11 December 2023

Afghanistan Emergency Water

Thanks to the Scottish Government, SCIAF will begin working in Afghanistan – one of the hardest places to operate in the world – serving those most affected by the recent earthquake that rocked the country.  

The epicenter of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake, on 12 October, was in rural Herat – and damaged or destroyed more than 7,000 homes across nine districts. 

It left at least 56,000 people in need of urgent shelter and non-food items such as mattresses and blankets – especially important when winter temperatures are plunging towards lows of -21°C.  

Both SCIAF and Christian Aid will receive £125,000 from the Scottish Government's Humanitarian Emergencies Fund (HEF) to work in the country.

SCIAF Emergencies Manager, Jonathan Dames said: 

“Seven weeks on from the earthquake, winter has arrived, and many are still homeless and sheltering in inadequate housing, fearful of aftershocks.  

“Working with our partners in the region, this assistance is both timely and much needed. Having worked previously in the region, I know it is an astonishingly complicated area in which to respond. 

“Aside from the political issues of working in a fragile post-conflict and hugely underdeveloped region, winter in rural remote Afghanistan is hugely challenging. But that is where the need is, and we are very much encouraged by the Scottish Government’s support of such a challenging project.”

In addition to the 7,165 homes destroyed, the earthquake left more than 21,300 buildings damaged – and then a subsequent dust storm destroyed several hundred emergency tents.  

SCIAF is part of Caritas Internationalis, a global Church network with a presence in more than 160 countries. Our response in Afghanistan centres on constructing earthquake resistant shelters, using traditional Afghani construction techniques. These new structures will then be overlaid with additional bracing to ensure that the sort of shocks experienced in the region do not lead to more collapses.

In addition to this support, blankets, mattresses, and cooking equipment will be distributed.  

Inernational Development Minister, Christina McKelvie, said:

"Our thoughts are with the thousands of people in Afghanistan struggling to survive and facing into an uncertain winter in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake that hit Heran in October.

"HEF funding will help people start to rebuild their lives and look towards 2024 with a greater sense of optimism and hope. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our partners at HEF to provide the humanitarian aid needed to make a positive difference in Afghanistan."

Chief Executive of SCIAF, Lorraine Currie added:  

“SCIAF works to prevent disasters around the world – but when they do strike, we respond as soon as possible through local partners. This allows us to work quickly and effectively in some of the most challenging places on earth – like Afghanistan – ensuring we serve those most in need. 

“We are incredibly grateful to the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland for this funding support.” 

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