2 November 2015 — The powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Jurm District of Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan on 26 October has affected large parts of Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan and Tajikistan. Many populations in the region of the Hindu Kush mountain range have suffered the consequences of this calamity, including Ismaili communities.

Preliminary reports indicated that across Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan and Tajikistan, hundreds of people were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed. Over 150 Jamati settlements are known to have been impacted, resulting in the deaths of 20 individuals and destruction or damage to 3,000 homes of Jamati families. Of the 19 Jamatkhanas that suffered damage, three are reported to be beyond repair.

“People are suffering and are very anxious in anticipation of the extreme weather conditions,” says Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer at Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan. “Cold weather and accessibility are the foremost challenges.”

The Ismaili Councils for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan, together with FOCUS and the Aga Khan Development Network have mobilised all their human and material resources to extend co-ordinated support to the affected populations throughout the region.

“A collective effort is required and we are working closely with the authorities, United Nations, international non-governmental organisations to provide emergency assistance and supplies to reach communities in inaccessible areas,” says Nasab.

Immediately following the earthquake, FOCUS response teams rushed to the affected areas to support local Community Emergency Response Teams in providing assistance to the affected people. AKDN helicopters are flying constant missions to assist with evacuation and relief efforts, including airlifting the severely injured, dispatching medical teams and medicine.

In Pakistan, Emergency Operation Centres in Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad have been activated. FOCUS teams are surveying the affected areas and compiling detailed assessment reports to identify immediate humanitarian needs. In addition, the agency is collaborating with the National Disaster Management Authority, Provincial Disaster Management Authority and District Disaster Management Authority to provide regular alerts to communities.

“In Afghanistan, assessment and relief operations have been hampered due to difficulties accessing several areas,” says Zaheer Hirani, interim Executive Officer at FOCUS Afghanistan. “Nonetheless, FOCUS is trying to reach those affected and is distributing non-food items including tents, blankets and warm clothing in preparation for harsh winter conditions.”

At this time of difficulty, the thoughts and prayers of Ismaili Muslims around the world are with their spiritual brothers and sisters, as well as all peoples affected by this tragic event.