Concern teams have constructed tents and are distributing food, including hot soup, water and blankets in the worst affected areas of south east Turkey.
They are also helping to move people from unsafe areas and damaged buildings into community centers deemed to be earthquake proof so families have somewhere safe to sleep.
Entire neighborhoods were flattened by the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes that began at 4:17am local time on Monday, killing over 11,000 people so far with fears this toll could rise to 20,000.
“We are responding to the enormous needs of thousands of families made homeless from this disaster,” said Concern’s Program Director in Turkey, Ali Fuat Sutlu, who witnessed much of the devastation.
“There are buildings in ruins, fires, fractures in roads blocking people and vehicles moving. Thousands are homeless in harsh sub-zero wintery conditions.
“Conditions here are worsening with temperatures below freezing and search and rescue responders running against time.”
“It is believed there are thousands of people still under the rubble who need to be found and saved. This continues to be a terrifying experience for us all, but we will do everything we can to save lives and support people with basic needs like a warm and safe place to sleep, food and water. We are very grateful for all the support we are getting in Ireland and across the world.”
Concern was already working in the areas most affected in Turkey and working with partners in north-west Syria where many people were already displaced due to conflict.
The organization’s 500 Turkish and Syrian staff survived the earthquakes, but were left traumatized and many are working from their cars due to the fear of more buildings collapsing during the hundreds of aftershocks that are still ongoing. Some were still in their night clothes when they responded to the emergency on Monday.
The World Health Organization estimates that 23 million people across Turkey and Syria could be affected by the earthquakes, including 1.4 million children.
Concern has been working in the region since 2013 and has has launched an emergency fundraising appeal for Turkey and Syria.
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Media Contact: Candance Patel-Taylor, Vice President of Communications at [email protected] or 312-690-3793.