The Aftermath Of Turkey’s And Syria’s Earthquakes

After some of the biggest earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and around 11,000 aftershocks, the people of both countries continue to need assistance.

On February 6, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook southern Turkey near the northern border of Syria. This was followed approximately by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. Then on the 20th, there was another 6.4 magnitude earthquake, and on the 27 a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook southern Turkey.

The first earthquake was the most devastating to hit earthquake-prone Turkey in more than 20 years and was as strong as one in 1939, the most powerful record. Back in August 1999, there was a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Marmara, Turkey.

At the time of this writing, there have been 54,448 earthquake-related deaths in Turkey and Syria, 240,000 damaged or destroyed buildings, 2.7 million people displaced in Türkiye, and 500,000 displaced in Syria, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

In addition to these earthquakes, more than 11,000 aftershocks occurred according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. Tremors from the earthquakes were felt in Cyprus, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan. 

Response to disaster in this earthquake-prone zone

Due to its location on the Anatolian plate, which borders two major fault lines, earthquakes are not a rare occurrence in Turkey, explains the British Red Cross.

New earthquakes are expected in the region.

The situation in Turkey is dramatic, but it has disaster management structures. The situation is even worse in Syria, a country at war since 2011 and with one of the biggest humanitarian crises in modern times. It has been difficult to provide rapid aid to the country since the government does not control all of the northwest, the area hardest hit by the earthquake, as CDP recalls.

In northwest Syria, 4.1 million people depend on humanitarian assistance and even before this disaster, more than 6.5 million children in Syria needed humanitarian aid due to the ongoing conflict. The already-bad situation in the country makes getting aid to affected Syrians more difficult. Oftentimes, hostilities in the region have remained and prompted accusations that life-saving aid was being politicized.

Although Turkey has some disaster management structures, there continue to be poorly constructed buildings that do not meet modern earthquake building standards. The earthquakes have occurred where thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey or displaced people in northwest Syria live in informal settlements and in zones already destructed by years of war and aerial bombings.

Safe building construction, supporting risk communication campaigns, investing in good infrastructures, and strengthening preparedness and resilience are the only ways the people in these areas can be cared for.

More than a month after, hundreds of thousands of people are still living in desperate conditions, lacking adequate shelter, food, clean water, sanitation, and more. As World Vision picks up, over 1.9 million people are seeking shelter in tents and temporary shelters in Turkey and 500,000 people in Syria are homeless.

One month on since the devastating earthquake hit Türkiye and Syria, the scale of the humanitarian response has yet to meet the enormous needs of displaced Syrian families and children who have suffered from compounded crises for almost 12 years now,” said Johan Mooij, director of World Vision’s Syria crisis response.

Thousands of people are traumatized and must receive attention. Also, extensive building damage remains in Turkish cities like Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Matalya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa and in Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, and Hamma governorates in Syria.  

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