The United Nations has launched an appeal for $1billion (€ 936 million) in emergency aid to help victims in Turkey of last week’s catastrophic earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people. The UN said in a statement today that the funds would provide humanitarian relief for three months to 5.2 million people. A separate appeal for Syria has been already launched on Tuesday.
“The people of Turkey have experienced unspeakable heartache,” said Martin Griffiths, the UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who visited the country last week. “I met families who shared their stories of shock and devastation. We must stand with them in their darkest hour and ensure they receive the support they need.”
The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria from last week’s powerful earthquake has now risen above 42,000, but a handful of people are still being rescued from the rubble. Millions of people who survived the quake need humanitarian aid, with many survivors left homeless in near-freezing winter temperatures. Rescues are now few and far between.
Turkish authorities say 36,187 people were killed in the 7.8 magnitude quake that struck near the southeastern city of Kahramanmaras on February 6, making it the deadliest earthquake in Turkish history. More than 6,000 deaths have been confirmed in neighboring Syria, according to figures compiled by the United Nations humanitarian agency and Syria’s state-run news agency. At least 1,600 people were killed in areas under government control, while another 4,400 are dead in Syria’s rebel-held northwest.
With much of the region's sanitation infrastructure damaged or rendered inoperable by the earthquakes, health authorities are facing a daunting task in trying to ensure that people now remain disease-free.
The series of large earthquakes destroyed tens of thousands of buildings and rendered an equal number uninhabitable, leaving scores of residents without shelter from bitter winter temperatures. Turkish authorities say over 2 million people have left the disaster zone in Turkey, while an estimated 1 million people have lost their homes and are currently without shelter.
According to Turkish authorities, nearly 13 million people have been affected in Turkey. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 26 million people across Turkey and Syria need humanitarian assistance. The WHO has called the February 6 earthquake “the worst natural disaster in the WHO European Region for a century”.
In neighboring Syria, more aid is starting to flow to war- and now earthquake-scared civilians in the country’s northwest, following President Bashar al-Assad’s agreement with the United Nations on Monday to allow humanitarian workers to use two additional crossing points from Turkey into opposition-held areas to speed deliveries.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths negotiated the use of two border crossings from Turkey into northwest Syria, meeting with President Assad on Monday in Damascus, bringing to three the number the U.N. has to work with. It is the first time since the conflict began in 2011 that Assad has agreed to allow aid to cross from Turkey to rebel-held areas. Opening all three Turkish-Syrian border crossings, Bab Al-Hawa, Bab Al-Salm and Al Ra’ee, will allow more aid to go in, faster.
On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched a flash appeal for the earthquake response in Syria to provide emergency relief to 4.9 million people in most acute need. 8.8 million people in Syria have been affected by last week’s devastating earthquakes, the United Nations said Tuesday. Humanitarian agencies will need $397.6 million to respond to the most pressing humanitarian needs over the next three months.
The earthquake hit as humanitarian needs are at their highest level since the conflict in that country started almost 12 years ago, and as logistical and access constraints and winter conditions are compounding challenges. The damage is worse in the north-west, where more than 4.2 million people have been affected in Aleppo, and 3 million people have been affected in Idlib. More than 7,400 buildings have been completely or partially destroyed.
Water, electricity, heating and social services are under severe pressure. The risk of waterborne diseases is high, particularly amid an ongoing cholera outbreak. Emergency health care is limited, and lack of fuel and heavy machinery is hampering efforts to quickly reach people most in need.
Meanwhile, the UN continues to scale up its cross-border aid operation, which resumed on 9 February after a three-day temporary interruption by the earthquakes, to meet the massive needs. 22 trucks from the World Food Program carrying canned food and mattresses, crossed Wednesday into northwest Syria through the Bab al-Hawa border point from Turkey.
WFP has also been distributing ready-to-eat meals and other food items in government-controlled areas, including Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces. WFP plans to send a further 40 trucks in the next couple of days, potentially using the new border crossings. So far, WFP has assisted nearly 100,000 people with emergency food rations in non-Government-controlled areas of north-west Syria.
Also Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration delivered shelter and non-food items through the newly reopened Bab al-Salam crossing. The United Nations said yesterday 117 trucks have crossed into the opposition-controlled northwest since aid started rolling on February 9.
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