UNICEF in Afghanistan - Palais Briefing

This is a summary of what was said by Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan – to whom quoted text may be attributed – on the situation of children and families affected by the earthquake in Afghanistan, at today's (Fri 24 June) press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

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Good morning. Thank you for your time.

I’d like to bring you up to date with the latest from Afghanistan, following the earthquake that struck in the early hours of 22nd June in the provinces of Khost and Paktika.

The earthquake was another tragic reminder of the challenges facing the people of Afghanistan. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all those affected and we wish those injured a speedy recovery.

Overview
As of late last night, at least 1,036 people were reported killed and more than 1,643 reported injured. At least 121 of these deaths were children and 67 of those injured were children. The total number of people killed or injured is not yet confirmed. Verification is ongoing. We expect these numbers to climb as the search and rescue operations continue. Bermal District, in Paktika province, reportedly has the highest number of casualties.

Several thousand homes are destroyed and/or damaged.

Children and adolescents are extremely vulnerable and at high-risk of family separation, emotional and psychological distress, abuse and exploitation, and other forms of violence.

Immediate Response 
UNICEF and our partners, alongside the de facto authorities, are working around the clock to gather information to better inform the response, even as deliveries of life-saving supplies are ongoing:
•         A team of 14 UNICEF extenders has been on the ground in the worst affected districts since the morning of 22 June. These extenders are assessing the extensive damage and urgent needs of the affected populations to prioritize assistance. Already we know that children and families affected by the earthquake are in urgent need of shelter, clean water, medical care and protection.
•         Nine UNICEF-supported mobile health and nutrition teams (MHNTs) have been on the ground in earthquake-affected areas since 22 June, providing life-saving medical care to the injured.
•         UNICEF has provided emergency medicine and medical supplies to MHNTs and partners in Khost and Paktika Provinces. These supplies are already being used for critical care.
•         UNICEF dispatched 500 first aid kits, while 45 acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) kits were also dispatched to help prevent the spread of AWD/cholera, which is a high risk in the aftermath of earthquakes due to damaged water systems and limited hygiene.
•         UNICEF distributed life-saving WASH supplies and non-food items (NFIs) to partners, including 3,000 hygiene kits, 980 winter kits, 200 emergency family kits, soaps and water purification tablets, tents, blankets, warm clothes, and tarpaulins.

Planned Response
UNICEF, in coordination with UN agencies, partners, and the de facto authorities (led by the Ministry of Defence) is rapidly preparing a multi-sectoral response covering health, WASH, child protection, nutrition, education, social mobilization, and including a cash component.  UNICEF will be conducting a rapid market assessment in the affected areas in the upcoming days. The assessment will inform the feasibility and appropriateness of cash as a response to support early recovery. UNICEF has already trained partners for beneficiary registration on the ground.

In WASH, the response includes providing soap and water treatment products to mitigate the increased risk of an AWD/cholera outbreak. UNICEF will also respond with: emergency latrines, repairs to damaged water systems, and emergency water trucking.
In child protection, UNICEF is activating community-based child protection networks in the affected areas and will increase the number of child protection service providers and social workers.

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For more information, please contact:

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, [email protected]

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