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Region of Concern: Afghanistan; Pakistan

Written By Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg; Edited by Amy McGee and Jennifer Loy

Date: March 22, 2023

Map of Afghanistan and Pakistan Border Region[1]

Event: On March 21, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit the northern mountain regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States Geological Survey reports that the earthquake’s epicenter was 40 kilometers southeast of Jurm, in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountain, with a depth of 187 kilometers. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, there have been nine deaths and 44 injuries, as well as four deaths and 70 injuries in Afghanistan. The Afghan Ministry of Disaster Management reports that the number of fatalities might increase due to difficulties in reaching some affected districts.[2] Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan felt tremors from the earthquake, an area more than 1000 kilometers wide. Landslides erupted due to the earthquake in Pakistan, and phone lines have been affected.[3]

Significance: Many of the injured Afghans will likely have trouble getting medical care because of the country's lack of adequate health care. Particularly, Afghan women will unlikely receive medical care due to women not being allowed to travel alone and the lack of female doctors. Low temperatures at night and the lack of heating, will almost certainly result in more casualties. Poor infrastructure in remote areas affected by landslides will likely lead to delayed emergency responses. Humanitarian organizations can likely provide assistance and aid easily in Pakistan, while the ban on women working in Afghanistan likely will make it difficult to provide the same aid. ISIS-K, which has an increased presence in the border region, will likely take advantage of the disorder and target aid organizations.

Recommendations: Governments in high-income countries should provide materials for rescue operations, such as bulldozers and cranes, to the affected region. Humanitarian organizations operating in the area, such as the International Rescue Committee and the International Committee of the Red Cross, should supply affected residents with shelter, blankets, food, and water. Health officials in the region should inform residents about aid and support through pamphlets and radio broadcasts and relocate residents to safer areas. The ban on women working in Afghanistan exempts health organizations such as Doctors without Borders, so they should provide help at hospitals in the area, particularly for women. The military in both countries should also increase their presence in the affected areas to counter any potential attacks from ISIS-K. The United Nations should pressure the Taliban government to ensure medical care for women. The member states of the United Nations should also provide economic relief for humanitarian organizations operating in the area, to ensure that the money is used to help civilians.


[2] Powerful earthquake kills at least 13 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, News 8000 - La Crosse News, March 2023,

[3] Earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan kills at least 12 people, BBC News, March 2023,



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