UN appeals for $110 million for Afghanistan earthquake response

The United Nations on Monday issued an urgent appeal for $110.3 million to provide lifesaving assistance to more than 360,000 Afghans who were affected last week by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that killed around 1,000 people, including 150 children.

Funding is needed over the next three months to meet urgent humanitarian needs, prevent more deaths and help rebuild homes and communities destroyed by the disaster.

The earthquake destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in several districts of Paktika and Khost provinces, according to aid agencies and Taliban officials.

“I am appealing to the world – please help me. We need money. We need funding. We need support to resolve this tragedy,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations relief for Afghanistan, in a video message during a visit to an area of ​​Paktika province hard hit by the earthquake.

More than half of the requested funding, if provided by donors, will be spent on emergency shelter and non-food items, while around $35 million will go towards food and health care needs in emergency.

Several countries in the region, including the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Qatar, Pakistan, India and China, responded to the disaster with planes loaded with tents, clothing, medical supplies and food. food. The United States has also pledged aid.

“U.S. humanitarian partners are already responding, including sending medical teams to assist those affected, and we are evaluating other response options,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement June 22, the day the earthquake was reported.

The earthquake response appeal is separate from the $4.4 billion humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan in 2022, the largest single-country appeal ever launched by the UN. By mid-year, donors had pledged less than 34% of the humanitarian appeal. With a commitment of $459.6 million, the United States tops the list of donors.

Online funding temporarily suspended

Hours after the earthquake was reported, online campaigns appeared on social platforms calling for help.

Over the past five days, at least 120 individual fundraising appeals have been launched on the GoFundMe crowdfunding platform, raising more than $500,000 from international donors.

However, some of the funds cannot be transferred to banks in Afghanistan due to US sanctions against the Taliban.

“We raised a lot of money thanks to the goodwill of people, but we cannot move the funds because of politics and bureaucracy,” Ajmal Ziarmal, who raised more than $26,000, told VOA. on GoFundMe.

“People lost loved ones, homes and everything they had, and they shouldn’t be punished more for politics,” he added.

A GoFundMe spokesperson offered condolences to Afghan earthquake victims, but said some of the funds raised on the platform were temporarily on hold.

“When funds are temporarily suspended, it generally means that we are ensuring that a clear path to a beneficiary has been established and that the fundraising complies with GoFundMe’s Terms of Service and international laws and regulations,” said the spokesperson told VOA.

The California-based for-profit platform encourages donors to give their contributions to verified activists whose accounts are not subject to transfer restrictions. As of June 27, nine verified activists have applied for funds for the earthquake response.

The United States has issued humanitarian waivers for financial transactions with Afghanistan, particularly when aid does not directly benefit the Taliban. But aid agencies say they still face significant obstacles and delays in banking with the country.

“(T)he formal banking system continues to block transfers due to excessive risk reduction, affecting payment channels and causing breakdowns in supply chains,” said Martin Griffiths, disaster relief coordinator. United Nations emergency, at the Security Council last week.

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