The United Nations is stepping up its efforts to provide health, food aid and temporary shelter to those affected by the avalanche that hit the Dispay village in the Badakshan province of northern Afghanistan last week, resulting in the death of 50 people and wounding four others.

“Every effort is being made to minimize loss of life through emergency preparedness such as prepositioning of food, shelter and medicine, good information sharing and coordination among those actors able to respond,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan Michael Keating.

In a news release issued on Saturday, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that efforts of the humanitarian community, including various UN agencies as well as the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, are focusing on the search and recovery of the 145 villagers that remain missing.

Access to Dispay village however, is possible only by road from neighbouring Tajikistan and has been severely hampered by snow-blocked roads, and helicopter access is not possible due to the high risk of triggering further avalanches.

Mr. Keating expressed his sympathy to the families of the Afghans killed in the avalanche, and warned that other disasters may follow.

“This tragedy is likely to be one of many in the near future,” he said. “Heavy snows will result not just in avalanches but also, in a few weeks’ time, severe flooding in many parts of the country.”

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