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22nd October 2023

More than two years of Taliban rule have brought economic turmoil, discrimination against women, widespread crime and drug use, and a growing humanitarian crisis to the people of Afghanistan. But for some communities, the most intense suffering was yet to come. A series of earthquakes and aftershocks in the western part of the country have destroyed entire villages and claimed over 2,000 lives.

They started with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on Saturday, October 7 that struck 40km (25 miles) northwest of Herat, one of the biggest cities in Afghanistan. Three strong aftershocks followed. Another 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit on Monday (October 16), causing major destruction, as mud-brick houses and other facilities like schools and health clinics collapsed.

Christians in Afghanistan are crying out to God for those who are suffering. Nava*, whose daughter avidly watches SAT-7 PARS’ children’s programs, grew up in Herat and now lives in Tajikistan with her family. She asked SAT-7 to pray for her compatriots in Herat:

“Please pray for all those who have lost loved ones to know the comfort of Jesus Christ. Today there is so much grief in Herat. Everyone is afraid and people are sleeping outside despite it being very cold. Please pray that the Lord will prevent another earthquake from coming.”

Over 2,400 Afghans have lost their lives in the earthquakes. Shockingly, UN officials reported that 90% of the people killed in the earlier quakes were women and children.[1] This follows a wider pattern in which women and girls are disproportionately affected by crises in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban regained control of the country in the summer of 2021, women and girls have been intermittently stopped from attending secondary school. Child marriage is on the rise and will continue to worsen educational, economic, and health outcomes, as well as increase the risk of domestic violence.[2] Women have also been barred from public places, banned from working in NGO offices, excluded from positions of authority in government, required to adhere to strict dress codes, and restricted in their freedom of movement.[3]

“The oppression and injustice against the people grow every day, and we believers also have to remain hidden,” Fahima, a woman from Afghanistan, told SAT-7, adding, “Please pray for Afghanistan.”

Although women and girls seem to be the most intensely affected by events in the country, all Afghans have been impacted one way or another. One out of two Afghans live in poverty, and although there was a slight uptick in economic activity in 2023, unemployment in the country has doubled.[4] “We are facing a lot of trouble here, and our lives are miserable,” said Manouchehr, one of SAT-7’s male viewers. “Please pray that things will get better.”

Afghanistan was very reliant on international aid in the decades before the Taliban regained control, and the regime has turned to the international community once again as it seeks to garner the resources they need to respond to October’s earthquakes [5]. The rebuilding of entire villages will require major investment that a country mired in economic difficulties will struggle to provide.

Panayiotis Keenan, Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS, said: “The people of Afghanistan are very much in our prayers following the devastating earthquakes there, which have compounded their suffering and worsened the humanitarian crisis in the country. Our Viewer Support Team is on hand to pray for and encourage people from Afghanistan who contact us in distress and need comfort. Please uphold them in your prayers.”

Since the Taliban’s takeover in 2021, SAT-7 has been increasing its support for Afghans, including teaching, worship, and discussion programs in Dari, the Persian dialect spoken in Afghanistan. Church4Kids and Church4Afghanistan have been providing safe digital spaces for followers of Jesus to connect and grow, with the latter covering the devastating earthquakes during one of its segments last week.

Please pray along with one of Church4Afghanistan’s viewers:

“I pray in the power of the holy blood of Jesus Christ, that our Savior God will come and save the whole country of Afghanistan. O Savior of the world, I declare the blessings of Your salvation, grace, and victory for Afghanistan. Amen.”

 

*Names of viewers have been changed for security.

 


Sources

[1] The Guardian

[2] UNICEF

[3] OHCHR

[4] The World Bank

[5] ABC News

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