* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
(ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN) – Child rights organisation Plan International is ready to respond after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit north-eastern Afghanistan, with tremors felt widely in Pakistan and India.
Plan International is monitoring the situation closely in both India and Pakistan, as well as working with partner organisations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, to assess the damage.
Mobile phone access has been cut off on both sides of the Afghanistan and Pakistan border.
Plan International’s Child Protection in Emergencies Specialist, Naima Chohan, lives in Islamabad, Pakistan, and felt the earthquake. She says:
“There was a big tremor in Islamabad and it lasted for a minute. The lamps and fans were shaking.
“When I went outside, people were stood outside on the road. Many were too scared to go back in. They were remembering the 2005 earthquake that devastated parts of Pakistan 10 years ago and the aftershocks that followed. That’s what we are most scared of now.”
In 2005, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit the Pakistan-administered Kashmir region. It caused widespread devastation, leaving more than more than 75,000 people dead and 3.5 million homeless.
Staff from Plan International are urging the public to watch out for aftershocks, especially as they are still being repeatedly felt across the region.
Plan International’s Head of Disaster Preparedness and Response, Dr Unni Krishnan, said:
“The earthquake has hit many remote, rural areas in both India and Pakistan. The only way to deal with these disasters is by working in partnerships with local organisations.
“They are the first ones to respond to a crisis like this. It shows time and time again, how important it is to invest in local building and infrastructure.”
As one of the world’s oldest and largest child rights organisations, Plan International is committed to protecting children in the aftermath of natural disasters that leave them particularly vulnerable.
Spokespeople are available both in-country and in London, UK, including:
Plan International Pakistan’s Country Director, Rashid Javed (in Bangkok)
Plan International’s Child Protection in Emergencies Specialist, Naima Chohan (in Pakistan)
Plan International’s Head of Disaster Preparedness and Response, Dr Unni Krishnan (in London)
Further details and interview requests:
Plan International Asia Regional Office (Bangkok): Jessica Lawson, Regional Communications Specialist
Mobile: +66 (0)81 1 257 8521
Plan International Headquarters (London):
Angela Singh, Global Press Officer
Mobile: +44 (0) 7773 636 180