A colossal 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkiye and neighboring Syria early on February 6, 2023, followed by a second 7.5 magnitude quake less than 12 hours later. More than 5,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands are seriously injured and/or trapped. Just 30 hours after the first quake, IsraAID deployed a team to Turkiye to provide immediate relief to devastated communities. This includes distributing warm winter supplies, hygiene kits, and water filters.
Humanitarian needs in Turkiye are already severe. Over 90% of the population live in poverty, and there are long-term needs in protection, education, livelihoods, and public health. Turkiye hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees. The southeastern Gaziantep province, near the quakes' epicenter, hosts the second-highest number of refugees after Istanbul and is facing a harsh winter, with snow on the ground. This makes it difficult for people to stay out of dangerous buildings.
IsraAID has responded to a number of recent earthquakes, including in Haiti, Indonesia, and Nepal. Using this experience and over 21 years of emergency response, we are assessing the needs of some of the worst affected communities, including deploying experts in mental health and psychological first aid, WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) solutions where infrastructure is damaged, safe spaces for displaced families, and more. As we continue to assess the situation, updates will follow.
Meeting displaced communities' basic physical needs restores dignity and autonomy, alleviating some of the stress of crisis and displacement. Meanwhile, mental health support will help these vulnerable individuals to develop the resilience to cope with their circumstances and further reduces the risk of long-term trauma.