We Began Aid Distribution Shortly After the Earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. We Now Have Over 500 People Helping on SitePublished: Feb 7, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
Following the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, we're working with local authorities and other non-profit organisations to provide immediate material and financial assistance.
We’ve already given 50,000 litres of petrol to the local governments in the area around the Syrian city of Idlib and to the north of the city of Aleppo. In cooperation with community canteens and volunteers, we also plan to distribute hot food to individuals in those areas. In the coming days, we hope to provide tens of thousands of meals to those in need.
Donate to the SOS Earthquake Syria and Türkiye Emergency Appeal
We also plan to pay the people who are helping to clear the debris and we’re stocking up on tarps to facilitate temporary home repairs. Finally, we're launching a financial distribution system to aid affected families. In Türkiye, together with our partners, we’re helping the most vulnerable communities in the city of Gaziantep, as well as donating money to local governments in order to help people repair their roofs.
We've have over 500 employees on site protecting the most vulnerable groups of people against armed conflict in the region for many years. Now, those same employees have immediately started working on mitigating the effects of the horrific earthquake.
The extent of the consequences of an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale cannot yet be fully known. The death toll is already over 5,000. The situation is very different in Türkiye than it is in northern Syria. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): "Syrian communities are currently being simultaneously affected by an ongoing cholera epidemic and severe winter events, including heavy rain and snowfall over the weekend. Infrastructure damage is difficult to assess at this time and roads are reportedly blocked in both Türkiye and north-western Syria."
"The situation on the ground is catastrophic. We’re focusing our work primarily in areas in Syria where the capacity and the capability of the local authorities is significantly less than it is in Türkiye. In Türkiye, we’re coordinating with local authorities and preparing assistance in the city of Antakiya, which is one of the most affected," says Tomáš Kocián, Regional Director for the Middle East and Afghanistan.
"Türkiye is a rich and functional state that is able to respond quickly to this type of disaster, deploying rescue units and heavy machinery to rescue people and clear the debris. The situation in Syria is much less clear due to the ongoing conflict, especially in areas that are not under government control," says Šimon Pánek, director of People in Need. According to reports coming out of the area, there is indeed a lack of heavy machinery in Syria. There was already a severe shortage of food, medicine, and hygiene supplies in the region due to long-running conflict even before the earthquake.
In a single day, the people of the Czech Republic have donated CZK 18 million (about €760,000) to the SOS Earthquake Syria and Türkiye Emergency Appeal, directly aiding victims of the disaster. Initially, we are using these funds to provide food, water and hygiene products to those in need. Once the most acute needs have been met, we will focus on rebuilding damaged homes and infrastructure.
Long-term assistance in the midst of armed conflict
Even before the earthquake, we offered various levels of assistance in Syria. We focused on immediate assistance to war victims, such as financial support, the distribution of food vouchers and hygiene kits. In the current situation, it is important to continue this work and to help prepare people for winter, especially internal refugees who often live in inadequately equipped camps.
In the long term, we are focused on helping to rebuild the country. We support agriculture, with money used to buy seeds and other supplies or indirectly through training programs for small farmers. We help to provide families and individuals with a stable income that allows them to stand on their own two feet. By building and repairing water and sanitation infrastructure, we help ensure that people have access to potable water and prevent the emergence and spread of disease.
We support education in local schools and temporary learning centers by helping local teachers, students and their parents. We strive to improve the quality of teaching, providing psychosocial support for children and parents affected by the conflict. In the camps, we create places where children can play and learn.