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The aftermath of the earthquakes, northwest Syria
4 April 2023

Turkey-Syria earthquakes: two months on

An update on Turkey and Syria, two months since the first earthquakes

It’s two months since the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria hit on 6 February. These were followed by numerous aftershocks, then two more earthquakes on 20 February. 

We have been incredibly moved by the generous response of the British public to World Vision’s DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, despite the cost-of-living crisis. News from the region has quietened, but there is much to do in order to restore and rebuild the lives of millions – and you can be a part of it. 

The Disasters Emergency Committee reports that the death toll now stands at over 50,000, with a further 18 million people affected and in need of support. According to the UN, more than 850,000 children remain displaced. More than 200,000 buildings have been reduced to rubble or will need to be demolished. Communities face a long road to recovery, and World Vision will be there. 

Two months on, many thousands of people are still without a home, relying on aid agencies for food, water, shelter, clothing and bedding. While winter is coming to an end, night-time temperatures still drop, making it hard to keep warm and get a good night’s sleep. Livelihoods have been lost and school buildings have been destroyed. Families are grieving and parents are worrying for the future of their children. 

"It feels like a bomb went off in the middle of their lives..." - Jennifer Neelson, World Vision

Assessing Turkey 

In Turkey the confirmed loss of nearly 46,000 lives seems unimaginable. 

World Vision’s Jennifer Neelson recently visited, to see the devastation first hand and discuss the way forward with partners and the United Nations. 

“It feels like a bomb went off in the middle of their lives...” she says, standing in the centre of a devastated town. “I look at this and I imagine photos from history books about destruction of cities during world wars.” 

With nowhere else to go, some people have been living in shelters in parks. 

World Vision is supporting people affected by the earthquakes in Turkey. This includes locations where recent floods have led to further loss of life.  

In Syria 

The loss of life to communities in Syria was over 7,000 - some had been displaced from other parts of the country, having escaped conflict elsewhere in Syria. 

World Vision and its partners have been supporting people in three camps with urgent care. Families have been supplied with food, water and non-food items such as mattresses, blankets, jackets and shoes. 

So far, we have been able to provide: 

  • 17,000 litres of fuel to medical facilities and search and rescue teams
  • 19,155 families with heaters and fuel 
  • 12,753 people with food and 11,985 with cash to buy food 
  • 6,646 families with non-food items such as blankets and hygiene kits 
  • 100,000 people with access to medical treatment through health centres 
Older lady and granddaughter sit outside their tent in a camp in Syria
Hanada and her granddaughter lost their home in the earthquakes

Missing school 

“I came here to the camp as I escaped the rubble when the house collapsed over us,” shares Hanada in Syria, who sits beside her granddaughter outside their tent. She is the sole provider for her two orphaned grandchildren. 

Her two grandchildren, a boy and a girl, have already received support from organisations like World Vision because Hanada is unable to work. She has requested blankets, pillows and a heater to go with the mattresses they’ve already received. They need them because it’s cold, especially at night. 

“May God bless you for your support,” Hanada says. 

Hanada’s granddaughter recalls the first earthquake: “We were sleeping then we suddenly felt the shake. After that, the walls started falling down and we ran away from the house. When we left, the building collapsed.” 

Children like Hanada are missing out on their education since the earthquakes. "I miss school so much,” she says. “I need a house, a school and a toilet.” 

A lady who was made homeless by the earthquakes
Lana and her three children were made homeless by the earthquakes

A better school 

“I want to have a house for me and my children and to receive support,” says Lana, a single mother who has received cash assistance from World Vision to buy food. “Receiving help is nice,” she adds. 

Lana’s home was badly damaged in the earthquakes. She and her three children have been staying with a friend. 

“I hope [my children’s] future will be better than for us,” she adds. “Our children haven’t seen anything except war and earthquakes.” 

Syrian girl being comforted after the earthquakes
Syrian girl being comforted after the earthquakes

Johan Mooji, World Vision’s Syria Response Director, says: “Our main theme is how can we restore normality in the areas that we work. We’d like to thank you for helping us do that: restoring normality for people who have been suffering from war and conflict and Covid...”  

World Vision will continue to be there for those who need help, meeting immediate needs as well as those for the longer-term. In the next seven months, World Vision will support 500,000 people impacted by the earthquakes. Along with practical necessities, this will include the provision of safe spaces for children and psychological support. 

There won’t be a quick fix, but World Vision and its partners will be able to help people rebuild their communities – and restore the hope they once had. With your support, we can reach more children and families affected by the Turkey-Syria earthquakes.

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