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Aftershock of trauma: Afghan earthquake survivors tell all

Civilians in Afghanistan are still finding their feet after an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 tore into the country's southern region on 22 June.

The disaster killed over at least 1,150 people, including 155 children. At least 6,000 injuries were recorded over 360,000 others were affected in many other ways. Within seconds, walls of homes and buildings that had once been nourished with laugher had plummeted into lifeless rock and rubble.

The tragedy was the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan since 1998. Since then, Afghanistan has been hit with a number of smaller earthquakes which put an added strain on recovery from the June disaster, with the latest one being on 3 November.

Throughout the crisis, Muslim Aid has been at the forefront of providing emergency relief to the victims.

Obaidullah was just 12 when he lost his parents and six siblings to June the earthquake. Two of his remaining older siblings were injured and hospitalised.

Out of his family of once vibrant family of 12, Obaidullah and his sister were the only two who were physically unaffected by the earthquake.

Aftershock of trauma: Afghan earthquake survivors tell all

The surviving members of their family now live with their uncle but needed emergency accommodation immediately after the tragedy.

Muslim Aid’s emergency response provided him and his sister with a tent and electrical supplies while their older siblings were being treated in hospital. His uncles were also given access to emergency shelter, which helped the surviving members of the family stay together as they processed the shock of losing so much so suddenly.

“I lost all my parents in the earthquake. Thank you for providing us with a place to live in”, he told Muslim Aid.

Obaidullah’s family is exceptionally vulnerable and is part of a longer-term programme that provides them with more sustainable support.

Asal Deen, 28, and his family of five were severely affected by the earthquake. Already having to navigate life with a disability in the Paktika province, he was left to endure the devastation of his home being destroyed and almost all their household items going missing. His family members were also injured.

Asal was one of those supported by Muslim Aid. He and his family were provided with emergency items and food to help empower them enough to stand on their feet in a post-earthquake Paktika. The support allowed him to leave survival mode and focus on moving forward after the tragedy.

Aftershock of trauma: Afghan earthquake survivors tell all

“After that horrendous earthquake, we lost many things”, he said.

This is the first time that we are receiving aid. It is very useful for me and my family. Thank you very much.”

Sayed Haroon Hashim, 39, also one of the victims in Paktika, said Muslim Aid was able to deliver relief at the perfect time to ensure his family of nine were able to survive.

His home in the village of Dermali was destroyed and he was left with significant financial losses which affected his ability to provide for his children.

His family were given items such as flour, cooking oil, long-life food and utensils to help them live inside pockets of normality amid environmental chaos.

Immediate aid is not only important for survival but helps to minimise the immediate trauma induced by a crisis causing a sudden shock to the victim’s nervous system.

“Before the earthquake, I used to work and earn for my family but with this situation I cannot work”, Sayed explained.

Aftershock of trauma: Afghan earthquake survivors tell all

“Our homes were destroyed and we lost almost everything. I truly appreciate this great support it helps us a lot, we will always remember your kind help”.

Along with the earthquakes, Afghanistan is enduring the effects of decades of war, invasions and political instability that pushed the country that is famous for its vibrant history and delicate saffron into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. One million Afghan children are at risk of dying from malnutrition this winter, while 95 percent of the population do not have enough to eat. There are millions more families that need assistance in Afghanistan. Donate to our Afghanistan appeal now or help us save even more lives by giving to our unrestricted Give to Everything campaign.

Diana Alghoul is the PR and Communications Manager at Muslim Aid. For enquires contact her at: [email protected]

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