February 13 marks one week since devastating twin earthquakes struck the Turkish Syrian border region. With the death toll surpassing 36,000 and hundreds of thousands more homeless, the region remains in the grip of a growing humanitarian crisis. Rescue teams in southern Turkey have rescued survivors from the rubble Monday, more than a week after a series of powerful earthquakes struck the region. The rescues came as experts warned the window is closing for finding more people alive in what remains of collapsed buildings.
Turkish authorities have reported at least 31,643 deaths from the massive earthquake centered in the Gaziantep region. Across the border in northern Syria, the death toll there had topped 4,574.
International search and rescue teams as well as medical and other aid have poured into Turkey since the first earthquake hit in the early morning hours of February 6. The United Nations says that priority needs in the areas affected by the earthquake include heavy machines for debris removal; medical supplies, including ambulances and medicine; shelter and non-food items, including heating; emergency food and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance. The UN continues to mobilize emergency teams and relief operations.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that at the request of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) 221 Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams from 82 countries, including some 10,700 personnel and 358 search dogs, have been deployed or mobilized. The USAR teams are working to locate, extract and provide initial medical support to victims trapped by collapsed structures in Turkey, supporting 25,702 national search and rescue personnel.
OCHA has activated its emergency response tools and a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team with a total of 50 members has been deployed to Gaziantep and to three hubs in the affected area to support the coordination of USAR operations as well as provide situational and humanitarian needs analysis. An UNDAC liaison Team with AFAD, who are leading the response, has also been established in Ankara.
A separate UNDAC team composed of seven members reached Syria and is supporting the response in Aleppo, Latakia and Homs. Currently, eight international rescue teams are working in the earthquake impacted areas in Syria.
The UN is working to rapidly scale up its assistance, including through the cross-border aid operations into the north-west Syria. Today, six trucks carrying food and non-food items from the World Food Programme (WFP) crossed through Bab al-Hawa crossing. Since 9 February, a total of 58 trucks loaded with essential humanitarian assistance crossed into the north-west Syria from southern Turkey.
Getting aid into earthquake-hit parts of Syria has been a big challenge, with outside deliveries restricted to a single crossing at the Turkey-Syria border. Shipments from government-controlled areas to rebel-held areas have been held up amid negotiations with the various parties to allow humanitarian access.
“We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths tweeted Sunday as he visited areas impacted by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. “They rightly feel abandoned.”
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield urged the U.N. Security Council to immediately vote on a resolution to authorize additional border crossings to deliver humanitarian aid to Syria.
“Right now, every hour matters,” she said in a statement late Sunday. “We have heard the calls from UN leadership that the Security Council needs to authorize two additional crossings to help deliver lifesaving aid to people in the northwest of Syria. People in the affected areas are counting on us. They are appealing to our common humanity to help in their moment of need.”
Meanwhile, thousands of people in Turkey and Syria are without safe drinking water and sanitation facilities such as running water and toilets. Humanitarian organizations warn that in these conditions there is a high risk of a waterborne disease outbreaks.
Donate now to help the victims of the Turkey-Syria Earthquakes
- UN Crisis Relief: Türkiye-Syria Earthquake Appeal
- World Food Programme (WFP): Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria
- UNHCR: Türkiye-Syria Earthquake Emergency
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): Syria Earthquake
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): Türkiye Earthquake
- CARE International: Turkey Syria Earthquakes Fund
- Concern worldwide: Turkey-Syria Earthquake Emergency Appeal
- Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC): Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal