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Crises in Afghanistan and Libya draw humanitarian response from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and its partners

Support is needed after earthquakes and flooding

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

Beginning Oct. 7 and continuing into last week, Afghanistan has suffered a series of earthquakes and aftershocks. (Photo courtesy of ACT Alliance)

LOUISVILLE — Earthquakes in Afghanistan and massive flooding in Libya have left scores of people in need of humanitarian aid. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is among those providing help through partners active in the affected areas.

Afghanistan suffered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in western Afghanistan’s Herat Province Oct. 7, followed by a series of aftershocks and more recent quakes. Media reports have stated that at least 2,000 people have died, although an Oct. 15-16 update from the World Health Organization lists the number of deaths at 1,480 as of Oct. 13.

In 11 villages in the Zindajan district, 100% of the houses were destroyed and hundreds of people are said to be missing, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

PDA is providing an initial emergency grant to support the efforts of its partner, whose name was not released. Those efforts will include emergency shelter, cash assistance for various purposes, winterization kits as well as quality and accountability resources and training.

Some people have lost all of their belongings and as winter approaches. They need warm clothing and some have not had a warm meal since the earthquake, UN News reported.

Many people have lost numerous relatives in the traumatized country, which experienced yet another earthquake on Wednesday, resulting in additional injuries, as well as yet another one Saturday.

“Villagers are distraught over the loss of their homes and livestock, often their only possessions, and worry about the coming harsh winter months,” The Associated Press reported. “Some said they had never seen an earthquake before and wondered when the shaking of the ground would stop.”

Meanwhile, Libya is grappling with the impact of torrential rains from Storm Daniel in September. The storm led dams near the port city of Derna to burst, pushing whole neighborhoods into the sea, according to UN News. Nearby areas also were affected by the storm.

More than 4,000 people died and many others have been injured, according to OCHA.

PDA partner Terre des hommes (Tdh) is responding to the water, sanitation and hygiene needs of those affected. Its efforts will include a water-trucking service that is expected to help 4,000 people. Tdh also will provide hundreds of hygiene kits with things like laundry detergent, hand-washing soap, feminine hygiene products, and jerricans for water.

The organization’s overall goal is to “holistically address the needs of 23,500 highly vulnerable children and families impacted” by the storm, according to Tdh.

DanChurchAid (DCA) is another PDA partner responding in Libya. It is collaborating with Libyan Red Crescent on medical support to search and rescue teams in Derna.

DCA also is assisting local authorities in an area where shelters are being set up for homeless families. It’s procuring basic items such as blankets, shampoo and baby wipes, for use in the shelters, and buying tools and equipment for emergency search teams.

In later phases, DCA plans to help provide psychosocial support for people and to help with rubble clearance and reconstruction work.

PDA is encouraging Presbyterians to support humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan and Libya. Designate gifts to DR999999-Libya or DR999999-Afghanistan.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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