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Scotland pledges £250,000 for Afghanistan families hit by earthquakes

Christina McKelvie MSP, who is the International Development minister for the Scottish Government (PA)
Christina McKelvie MSP, who is the International Development minister for the Scottish Government (PA)

The Scottish government has committed to send a quarter of a million pounds to charities helping families whose homes were destroyed by earthquakes in Afghanistan in October.

Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (Sciaf) and Christian Aid will each receive £125,000 through the Humanitarian Emergency Fund (HEF), an annual £1 million fund set up by the Scottish government to respond to overseas humanitarian emergencies.

It is estimated Christian Aid will be able to support 1,550 people from 310 households using the money while Sciaf will use its share to provide winter items to 1,050 people from 150 households.

Two earthquakes hit western Afghanistan within days of each other in early October, killing over 2,000 people and flattening entire villages, followed by a third quake in the middle of the month.

The US Geological Survey said the third quake’s epicentre was about 21 miles outside Herat, the provincial capital, and five miles below the surface.

International Development minister Christina McKelvie MSP said the humanitarian funding will help families facing a difficult winter in a country where temperatures can plunge to lows of -21°C.

Ms McKelvie said: “Our thoughts are with the thousands of people in Afghanistan struggling to survive and facing into an uncertain winter in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake that hit Herat in October.

“The damage was substantial, with over 10,000 homes completely destroyed. Seven weeks on, the task of rebuilding is a complex one that will take time.

“HEF funding will help people start to rebuild their lives and look towards 2024 with a greater sense of optimism and hope.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our partners at HEF to provide the humanitarian aid needed to make a positive difference in Afghanistan.”

Lorraine Currie, chief executive of Sciaf, said: “Sciaf works to prevent disasters around the world, but when they do strike, we respond as soon as possible through local partners.

“This allows us to work quickly and effectively in some of the most challenging places on earth, like Afghanistan, ensuring we serve those most in need.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland for this funding support.”

Christian Aid’s country manager for Afghanistan, Subrata De, said: “As we move into the colder winter months the situation for communities where homes have been damaged or destroyed remains bleak.

“Resilience is very low due to the multiple challenges they are already facing including hunger and food insecurity.

“We are grateful for the Scottish Government funding which will allow us to provide cash support, allowing people to buy the things they need like warm clothing, blankets and food.

“This support complements our existing and ongoing work through local partners in the Herat region.”