Action Against Hunger Assesses and Responds to Urgent Needs after the Worst Earthquake to Strike Syria and Turkey in a Century

Survivors of Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria most urgently need sleeping kits (mattresses and blankets), heaters, fuel, hygiene kits and medicine, according to an initial assessment conducted by Action Against Hunger staff in Syria and Turkey alongside local agencies. The rapid report also confirmed the urgent need to rehabilitate sanitation and hygiene systems, provide psychological support, and distribute emergency cash for affected households.

Response in Syria

“The death toll has already surged past 11,000, and survivors urgently need food, water and protection from winter weather,” said Darius Zietek, Action Against Hunger’s Country Director for Syria. “We’re working closely with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Aleppo Health Directorate and tapping our expertise in water and sanitation systems to assess the damage and try to prevent the outbreak of disease. There is an urgent need for water trucking services since the water supply to the affected neighborhoods has been cut off so that it does not hamper rescue operations.”

A large-scale humanitarian response is needed to support people in Syria who, after more than a decade of conflict and economic crisis, were already heavily dependent on humanitarian aid to cover their basic needs.

“Organizations such as ours, which are already present in the affected areas, are best placed to provide this assistance because of their local knowledge and capacity for rapid response,” Zietek said.

Action Against Hunger has been on the ground in Syria since 2008, providing emergency relief to people impacted by conflict and advancing long-term programs to build resilience and prevent hunger for more than one million people.

Response in Turkey

“As emergency teams frantically search for survivors, they must also deal with the catastrophic aftermath of thousands of injured people, broken water and hygiene systems, and demolished buildings. The situation is still insecure, there is a lot of uncertainty,” said Daniel Martin, Action Against Hunger’s Colombia Country Director, who was in Gaziantep, Turkey with his family when the earthquake hit. “The vast majority sleep in cars, because many houses have large cracks and until the buildings are evaluated, it is not safe to return. In our house, there was no gas, electricity, or drinking water.”

Action Against Hunger’s emergency team in Turkey includes an emergency coordinator; a logistician; a water, sanitation, and hygiene coordinator; and a health and nutrition coordinator. They are working with others to help coordinate the logistics of the emergency response, which will include urgent shipments of water and hygiene products, as well as shelter, nutritional, and other supplies.

When Martin felt the earthquake begin, he ran to grab his children and seek protection under a door frame. He said, “The earthquake felt like it was never going to end. The house was swaying like a sail. We couldn’t run because it was snowing. But, we were lucky.”

Psychological support is also important for survivors and rescue and humanitarian personnel. Martin said, “There are people very affected by what has happened.”

Donate to help victims of the Turkey and Syria Earthquake