UN launches emergency appeal for $110 mln for Afghanistan earthquake victims

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The United Nations said Tuesday it had launched an emergency appeal to help hundreds of thousands of people in areas of Afghanistan ravaged by last week’s deadly earthquake.

The 5.9-magnitude quake last Wednesday hit hardest in impoverished Paktika province in the east, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

The UN humanitarian agency said that it and its partners had launched an appeal for $110 million to urgently help 362,000 people for the next three months in the worst affected areas of Paktika and Khost provinces.

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“In addition to the tragic deaths and injuries, the earthquake also destroyed homes, health facilities, schools and water networks, leaving thousands vulnerable to further harm,” spokesman Jens Laerke told reporters.

He said the appeal launched Monday was part of this year’s overall Humanitarian Response Plan for the impoverished and conflict-torn country.

To be fully implemented, that would require $4.4 billion, but has so far only been 34 percent funded, Laerke said.

In fact, he said, the UN program is so underfunded that the agency and its partners have had to borrow supplies and personnel from other humanitarian programs to assist with the immediate earthquake response.

Last Friday, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths also released $10 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Relief Fund to help boost the support.

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