Search and rescue missions continue for survivors after 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes struck southeast Türkiye** (Turkey) and northern Syria in the early hours of Monday morning.
At the time of this writing (February 9), an estimated 20,000 people have been confirmed dead so far by authorities. This is expected to rise further. Thousands more have been injured or impacted by the tragedy.
Concern Worldwide has launched an emergency response to help provide the basic needs of those affected.
Nasima*, 20: “Suddenly our house collapsed”
Among the people we met in the Turkish city of Adiyaman is an Afghan family who moved to the area just ten days ago. They had to leave their home after it was damaged and they are trying to survive the freezing temperatures by lighting a small fire in a tent that is now their makeshift shelter.
Nasima* (20) spoke about the moment she fled with her daughter as their home collapsed: “We were asleep when the earthquake happened. We were terrified, my mom was scared. I was holding my daughter, we came outside, and suddenly our house collapsed. Everyone was outside, crying, running… scared, it was absolute madness.”
She spoke about their immediate needs amid the harsh winter conditions.
“Today is the third night we are homeless, my daughter and mom are sick, we are not doing fine at all. We want somewhere safe, because we cannot go back to our house, and it is very cold outside.”
Leyla, 55: “It looks like Judgment day”
“Adiyaman! It looks like Judgement Day,” says Leyla Orun (55). “Everything around us is crumbling. You can see Adiyaman, look around you!” She adds, gesturing to the apocalyptic landscape.
A widow, Leyla is concerned about how she will provide for the needs of herself and her five children. “We need clothes, we need food, we need candles, we need tents. We need water and we need all the basic foods for our basic needs. Hygiene materials, water, blankets and a tent for shelter,” she said, listing off many of the urgent details following the destruction of her house.
Begum: “It seems like the crisis will last”
Leyla’s list of necessities touches on the complicated nature of rescue and relief efforts. Begum Akdoğan, Concern Türkiye’s program coordinator, warned that it may take years for Adiyaman to recover from the destruction of Monday.
“We need to provide everything that we can and we need to be able to coordinate with each other. It seems like the crisis will last, not just for a week, but for months. Or maybe a year — or maybe even longer than that. The infrastructure is not working currently. The schools, the hospitals are not working currently. It will take time to rebuild.
“We need your support to support this area, to support families and to support people who are working in this field,” Akdoğan adds.
The Turkey-Syria earthquake: How you can help
Concern has been working in some of the most affected areas in Türkiye and working with partners in northwest Syria since 2013 as part of our response to the crisis in Syria. Our 500 staff members from both countries survived the earthquake and immediately went into action to support relief efforts — some still wearing their pajamas.
While rescue efforts continue, both in Syria and Türkiye, a major priority for local authorities and organizations like Concern is to support those who have been left homeless by the earthquake. The Concern Worldwide team in Şanliurfa, Türkiye quickly began to deliver blankets, food, and other essentials to centers of refuge. They have been also helping to construct temporary shelters for those with nowhere to go.
Our response will continue to escalate and shift to meet the scope and needs of the situation as it evolves, especially with regards to the most vulnerable people affected.
*Name changed for security purposes.
**In the summer of 2022, Turkey officially changed its name at the UN to Türkiye, in keeping with how its name is spelled and pronounced in Turkish.