Kabul, 2 May 2014 - A series of heavy rain induced landslides struck in the Argo district of Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan causing significant loss of life and widespread damage to homes and agriculture. Provincial authorities report that more than 350 Afghans have been killed, more are still missing and many families have been displaced.
Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, said, "On behalf of the UN humanitarian agencies, I wish to extend our condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones as a result of these landslides. There have now been more Afghans killed through natural disasters in the past seven days than all of 2013."
The Afghan Government’s Provincial Disaster Management Committees (PDMC) is leading the coordination of operational response within Badakhshan, with support from humanitarian agencies.
Whilst search and rescue operations remain the immediate priority, assessments have been initiated to determine the full extent of the damage caused, as well as responding to the immediate needs of the population. With some areas still difficult to access, it may be some time yet until a clear picture of the full extent of the damage is known.
"The foremost priority at the moment is saving as many lives as possible of those still beneath the rubble," Mr. Bowden said. "The UN system is fully engaged in the ongoing effort and is mobilizing more capacity and resources to bolster the response."
The Northern Region of Afghanistan continues to be susceptible to recurring natural disasters, where seasonal rains and spring snow melt regularly result in life-threatening flash floods and landslides. The National Disaster Management Commission, supported by the international humanitarian community, regularly prepares contingency plans to help better prepare and respond to such disasters, as well as mitigating the impact.
"Given these ongoing risks and vulnerabilities, the critical importance of investing in disaster risk reduction and enhanced mitigation measures must remain a key priority in those communities most prone to hazards," Mr. Bowden added.