Two Months of Earthquake Response in Türkiye and Syria

Published: Apr 6, 2023 Reading time: 5 minutes
Delivery of hygiene kits and blankets to the village of Icerisu in Nurdagi, Gaziantep, Turkiye. Funded internally by SOS Emergency Appeal.
© Foto: Kieran Seager

Throughout the last month, People in Need (PIN) staff have worked continuously to provide relief in the aftermath of the earthquakes that struck Türkiye and northwest Syria on the 6th of February. Emergency needs remain high, and PIN is continuing to support vulnerable communities on both sides of the border.

Responding in Northwest Syria

In Idleb province, where PIN has been providing aid for more than a decade, an estimated 3 million people have been affected by the earthquake. Two months on from the disaster, and they are still in dire need of even the most basic aid items.

Since the last monthly update, PIN has distributed nearly 400 non-food items (such as blankets, hygiene items, and clothes) and 283 ready-to-eat meals to affected communities in northwest Syria using funds raised through the SOS Emergency Earthquake Appeal. 148 towns and cities across Syria’s northwest have been badly affected by the quake, with many residents now living in makeshift shelters or tents. Having lost the vast majority of their belongings, simple non-food items and food kits will be the first step to ensuring affected households can get back on their feet. Adding to the supply of basic items, two trucks loaded with mattresses, blankets, and tarps were sent from Czechia and arrived in Syria last week, with the items to be distributed soon.

In addition, with funding from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, Stichting Vluchteling (Netherlands Refugee Foundation), and other institutional donors, PIN has been distributing multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) for thousands of vulnerable families. These cash grants can be used to cover the cost of a variety of basic needs, from food to clothes and tents.

Further MPCA support will also be provided by PIN in the aftermath of flooding in northwest Syria. If the earthquake was not enough to contend with already, severe rainfall led to the river Orontes overflowing its banks, resulting in widespread flooding. At least 50 camps hosting were flooded, many of which hosted displaced people who lost their homes in the earthquake.

Immediately, PIN moved to support those further affected by the floods, and is planning to respond in two camps for internally-displaced people. 290 households will be supported with a one-off cash grant of 150 USD. Three other camps have also been identified as in need of PIN assistance following strong windstorms which caused damage to camp structures, tents, and shelters. 450 households in these camps will be similarly supported through multi-purpose cash grants.

Extreme weather events have worsened an already dire humanitarian situation in northwest Syria. To help alleviate the growing needs of vulnerable families, PIN has also been providing cash grants under its winterization programme. In March alone, nearly 6,000 households were supported under this modality. With the cash provided by PIN, families will be better prepared to endure the harsh weather by buying food, warm clothes, and fuel.

While emergency needs are still overwhelming, and likely to increase, PIN is nevertheless looking ahead to the slow process of reconstruction and recovery following the earthquake. Using funds from the European Union, PIN has begun distributing cash to help affected families repair the damage to their homes. In March, 421 households were supported across 12 locations in northwest Syria. More than 10,000 buildings in Syria’s northwest have been partially or completely destroyed, and house repairs are urgently needed to allow vulnerable Syrians to return to their homes.

Further funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and Stichting Vluchteling (Netherlands Refugee Foundation), PIN is implementing a cash-for-work programme that employs local residents to clear the rubble and debris in the aftermath of the earthquake. The positive impact of this project is twofold; creating job opportunities while simultaneously facilitating the first stage of post-earthquake reconstruction.

Responding in Türkiye

In Türkiye, 2.3 million people are living in formal and informal settlements following the earthquake. PIN has expanded its programming to provide emergency relief assistance for earthquake-affected communities in the Nurdağı district of Gaziantep province. Drawing on the significant funds raised by the SOS Emergency Earthquake Appeal, blankets and hygiene kits were distributed for families who had tragically lost their homes in the quake.

At the same time, in the last month PIN donated 500 blankets and tens of thousands of dollars to its local Turkish partner NGO, Kırkayak Kültür. These donations have enabled Kırkayak to expand the scale of its support for the impoverished Roma population of Gaziantep, distributing – along with blankets – food, diapers, clothes, and other essential goods.

Using SOS funds, PIN also provided support for the Turkish NGO İnsana Değer Derneği (IDD), to facilitate its work in distributing heaters, blankets, and hygiene kits to badly damaged areas in Adıyaman province and in Şanlıurfa. Similar to the terrible weather events that struck northwest Syria, both Adıyaman and Şanlıurfa witnessed further devastation following sudden and torrential rain and flash floods in mid-March which left at least 14 people dead.

Further donations from Stichting Vluchteling (the Netherlands Refugee Foundation) have also enabled the distribution of mobile latrines in Adıyaman city itself, where more than 40 tented villages have been established in the town centre. 48 latrines were donated to the provincial authorities to be installed in surrounding areas that hold hundreds of displaced families.

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

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