One Month Later: A Summary of our Earthquake Response in Türkiye and Syria

Published: Mar 6, 2023 Reading time: 5 minutes
Within its response to the earthquake in Syria, PIN has distributed NFI kits to the people affected by the earthquake. Khadija is a displaced woman from Idleb's southern countryside whose house was poorly damaged by the earthquake.
© Foto: Omar Khattab+Mahhmoud Mostafa

One month has passed since a major earthquake tore through Türkiye and Syria, claiming more than 50,000 lives and leaving more than 120,000 injured. In coordination with humanitarian clusters and other NGOs, People in Need’s staff have been working tirelessly to distribute vital aid to those affected by the earthquake.

Immediately after the earthquake, People in Need (PIN) launched an SOS Earthquake Syria and Türkiye Emergency Appeal to collect the money needed to fund the first stages of its response. Thanks to the generosity of the public, PIN raised 95,000,000 CZK (3.9 million euros). The first few days of PIN's emergency response was funded solely with the money raised through this appeal, allowing a degree of flexibility and immediacy that proved lifesaving in the aftermath of the disaster.

An Overview of PIN’s Response

In northwest Syria, starting on the second day after the earthquake, PIN donated 50,000 litres of petrol to rescue workers around Idleb and to the north of Aleppo to fuel their heavy machinery needed to clear rubble during rescue operations.

From the third day, 1,500 ready-to-eat meals, 350 water tanks, and 1,200 non-food-item (NFI) kits were purchased for distribution in camps and makeshift reception centres in Syria’s northwest. These NFI kits contained blankets, mattresses, carpets, and winter clothes for children that were produced under PIN’s cash-for-work programme. At this stage of the response, with access to northwest Syria severely limited, all of these materials and food were purchased locally, enabling a timely supply of aid to reach those in need.

PIN also supported two large hospitals, in the Syrian towns of Salqin and Aqrabat, which had received large numbers of injured people and others searching for friends or relatives. The hospitals were severely lacking an adequate supply of food, so PIN provided two meals per day, for a total of 750 families, for 5 days.

From the fifth day, PIN began distributing 150 USD worth of cash for thousands of people affected by the earthquake in Idleb and provided hundreds of hot meals in the towns of Azaz and Jendires.

“The people need work opportunities and aid of all types, mainly food assistance as the people here are really poor with no jobs. Many people depend totally on aid,” says Ibrahim, who received ready-to-eat meals and wool clothes from PIN.

The second week of the response

In the second week of the emergency response, using funds from institutional donors, People in Need resumed its regular humanitarian aid programmes in northwest Syria, where PIN has been operating since 2012. Part of these operations in Syria before the earthquake included the distribution of electronic food vouchers and cash grants, which were needed even more after the disaster. Many households found themselves hosting others who had lost their homes, and consequently PIN staff coordinated with local authorities to immediately resume its food and cash programmes to cover the needs of affected communities.

As a major humanitarian actor in the education sector in northwest Syria, People in Need has been providing psychosocial support (PSS) for children affected by the earthquake, and has distributed ‘earthquake kits’ consisting of crayons, pencils, and notepads, to be used by children in PSS sessions. Training has also been given for children on how to evacuate during an earthquake, as well as parenting sessions for caregivers on how to support children through this emergency.

In Türkiye, PIN provided financial assistance to its local partner, the Turkish NGO Kırkayak, to distribute blankets, clothes, diapers, and other NFIs to communities in Gaziantep, notably the already impoverished Roma community. PIN also donated 900,000 CZK to the Turkish Red Crescent to support those who lost their homes.

People in Need also donated hundreds of hygiene kits, socks, heaters, solar lamps, and water boilers to the Turkish NGO, İnsana Değer Derneği (IDD), which were then passed on to the municipalities of Adiyaman and Kahramanmaras for distribution to those affected by the earthquake.

In Gaziantep province, PIN is directly distributing blankets, hygiene products, and other NFIs to families who have been forced out of their collapsed homes into tents provided by the Turkish disaster management agency.

“People who were affected by the earthquake need shelter and basic needs like food, medicine, and blankets. They also need financial aid to help them through this hard time,” says Khadija, from Idleb, who received NFIs from PIN.

The Next Stage

In the coming weeks, with funds from the European Union, PIN will start a cash-for-shelter project in northwest Syria to provide money to help people repair their homes, and will aim to reach 3,000 people with this intervention. At the same time, multi-purpose cash assistance will help families to purchase food, hygiene products, and other items they need after having lost their homes and belongings in the earthquake.

A cash-for-work rubble removal project in locations across Syria’s northwest will also be implemented soon, which will provide short-term employment to assist with debris clearance in districts where local authorities are overwhelmed and lack the capacity to clear the rubble themselves.

In Türkiye, enabled by funding from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and Stichting Vluchteling (Netherlands Refugee Foundation), People in Need will continue its support for IDD and Kırkayak, as well as expanding the scope and locations of its operations in Gaziantep, including the installation of mobile latrines for tented communities, as well as psychosocial support sessions.

Autor: Kieran James Seager, People in Need’s Communications Manager for Syria and Türkiye

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