The recent earthquakes in Herat province have left many individuals and families in need of support and assistance. In this challenging time, it is crucial to prioritize protection, safety, well-being, and access to services. This guide aims to provide you with key tips and practical advice to help you navigate through this challenging period.
Remember, you are not alone, and there are dedicated national and international humanitarian organizations and authorities ready to assist you.
1. Humanitarian Access, Information, and Services
- Seeking Support: Humanitarian workers, including local and international organizations and the United Nations, are in Herat province to help those affected by the earthquake. Remember, seeking support is not a sign of weakness or shame. They work tirelessly to respond to your needs. Don't hesitate to reach out for assistance.
- Relief Assistance: Relief assistance comes with no conditions. No one has the right to demand anything from you or your family in exchange for humanitarian aid. If you are unsure where to access specific services, inform a staff member from a humanitarian team in your location for guidance.
- Documentation for Assistance: You do not need a Tazkera or any other documentation to receive immediate relief assistance that can save lives. Your safety and well-being take precedence over paperwork.
- Transparency and Accountability: You have the right to know and understand the assistance you are receiving. Those responsible for providing aid should be able to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have.
- Beware of Unauthorized Individuals: Be cautious of individuals without proper identification who offer services that differ from those provided by established relief efforts. If you feel unsafe or suspicious, immediately inform someone you trust.
- Safety for Women and Girls: Women and girls have the right to request separate spaces or locations to receive relief services, ensuring their safety and protection. Empowerment and well-being of women and girls should be a priority in service delivery.
- Communication and Safety Measures: Always inform someone you trust about your whereabouts and plans. It is essential to keep track of your family members and ensure their safety as well. Open communication is key during this time.
- Harassment Reporting: Humanitarian employees are not allowed to harass you or your family members during service delivery. If you witness any incident of harassment, you have two options: contact the AWAAZ Humanitarian Call Centre by dialing the number 410 free of charge or inform a trusted member of the humanitarian staff on the ground.
- Prohibited Weapons: Weapons of any kind are strictly prohibited in relief sites. If you become aware of someone carrying or using a weapon, report it immediately to site management for the safety of all.
2. Earthquake-Affected Families
- Ensuring Safety During Evacuation: When leaving your home or village, ensure that no one is left behind, especially vulnerable individuals such as children, persons with disabilities, and older persons who may require assistance.
- Staying Together: If you and your family are moving to an evacuation center or another safe location, stay together to prevent anyone from getting lost along the way. If possible, take important documents like legal identity papers and documents related to your home or land.
- Support for Specific Groups: Remember that certain groups, such as children, pregnant and lactating women, persons with disabilities, and older persons, require specific support to address their needs. Act as a community to ensure their safety and well-being.
- Assisting Vulnerable Individuals: Help those who require special support, including women and children without family support, persons with disabilities, and child-headed families. If you notice that they are not receiving assistance, contact humanitarian workers to ensure their needs are met.
- Protecting Vulnerable Groups: In times of crisis, individuals may attempt to take advantage of vulnerable populations. Be vigilant and protect your family and community from any form of exploitation or abuse.
- Participation and Decision Making: Ensure that women, men, boys, girls, older persons, and persons with disabilities actively participate in the design and location of facilities and distribution points. Their voices and needs must be heard and respected.
- Keeping Children Safe: Service providers should not separate children from their parents, family members, siblings, or trusted adults they are traveling with unless there is imminent risk. Report any incidents of separation to a child protection worker, a humanitarian actor, or the AWAAZ Humanitarian Call Centre.
- Unaccompanied Children: If you encounter a child who appears to be alone, do not assume they are lost or unaccompanied. The parent or caregiver may be nearby. Verify the child's situation by asking them and the people around them. If there is no imminent danger, stay with the child in case someone is searching for them.
3. Safety from Dangers and Injuries
- Prioritizing Safety: Protect yourself, your family, and others from further harm or injury. We are all facing this disaster together, and by supporting each other, we will recover.
- Child Safety: Keep children away from potential dangers such as dead bodies, animals, unknown objects, ditches, or open wells. Create a safe space for them to play and rest away from hazardous areas.
- Structural Damage: Be cautious of damaged buildings or structures that may collapse. Do not enter any buildings that show signs of significant damage. Seek assistance from structural engineers or experts to assess the safety of your home before reoccupying it.
- Falling Debris: Be aware of falling debris from damaged buildings or unstable structures. Keep a safe distance from these areas and report any immediate dangers to the authorities or humanitarian workers.
- Fire Hazards: Be mindful of fire hazards, such as damaged electrical wires or gas leaks, which can lead to fires or explosions. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, evacuate the area immediately and inform the appropriate authorities.
- Water Safety: Check the safety of water sources before using them for drinking, cooking, or personal hygiene. If in doubt, use bottled water or water purification tablets to ensure safe consumption.
4. Access to Critical Services
- Health Services: Seek medical attention for any injuries or health concerns promptly. Local health facilities and mobile clinics established by humanitarian organizations are available to provide healthcare services. Don't hesitate to access these resources.
- Mental Health Support: Experiencing an earthquake can be traumatic. It is essential to prioritize your mental well-being and seek support if needed. Mental health services and psychosocial support are available through humanitarian organizations. Reach out for assistance or speak with a trusted person about your feelings.
- Education for Children: Ensure that your children continue their education, even in the aftermath of an earthquake. Temporary learning spaces and educational support may be available. Enroll your children in these programs to help them regain a sense of normalcy.
- Food and Nutrition: Access to sufficient and nutritious food is crucial for your family's well-being. Seek information about food distribution points, community kitchens, or food assistance programs available in your area.
- Shelter and Non-Food Items: If your home is uninhabitable or you have been displaced, seek shelter assistance provided by humanitarian organizations. They can provide emergency shelter materials, blankets, hygiene kits, and other essential items to ensure your comfort and well-being.
- Legal Support: If you require legal assistance or have concerns regarding your rights or property, seek guidance from legal aid organizations or humanitarian actors working in the area. They can provide information and support to help you navigate legal processes.
- Rebuilding and Recovery: As the recovery process begins, participate in community discussions and decision-making processes to ensure that your needs and priorities are considered. Collaborate with humanitarian actors and local authorities to make your community stronger and more resilient.
Following a series of devasting earthquakes, it is crucial to prioritize protection, safety, well-being, and access to services in affected areas of Herat province. Remember to seek support, report any concerns or incidents, and actively participate in decision-making processes. By working together and supporting one another, we can recover and rebuild your communities stronger than ever before.
For coping with stress resulting from the earthquake, seek support from the Health Cluster and Protection Cluster, which provide Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) through local partners. Additionally, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) facilitates coordination among various clusters and their interventions, addressing different causes of stress, including shelter and food-related issues.
For those Afghans seeking specific information, "Beporsed" is here to help. You can reach our information center through WhatsApp (+93729807235), Facebook Messenger, or our website's Messenger to ask our online information desk officer for assistance.
For more information
For more information on immigration, resettlement, education and scholarship programs, and other opportunities available to Afghans worldwide, as well as details on the humanitarian services provided by international organizations in Afghanistan and procedures for obtaining civil documents from governmental institutions, please visit Beporsed's website and social media pages.