Responding to the Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria
On Monday 20th February we saw another two earthquakes of magnitude 6.4 and 5.8 hit nearby region of Hatay on the Turkish-Syrian border. This happened only two weeks after the huge tremors of magnitude 7.8 and 7.4 rippled out from their epicentres in Gazientep and Elbistan, Türkiye and across into Syria.
The magnitude, location, and timing, together with lax enforcement of construction regulations and inconsistent developer adherence to strict seismic codes, further amplified the destruction and death toll. The 7.8 earthquake near Gazientep hit the city in the early hours of the morning (4.17am local time), when people were inside sleeping with no earthquake warning given.
Destruction was then further intensified when, the almost equally as large, 7.4 tremor hit just hours later in the nearby Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province.
The socio-political context in both countries adds a layer of challenge. The Syrian context is one of long-standing civil war with an already strained health care system. Türkiye has is already home to over 3.6 million refugees.
The scale of the impact has resulted in a colossal death toll, as of Tuesday 14th February, reaching over 35,000 in Türkiye (Turkish Government) and 5,500 in Syria (UN’s humanitarian agency). The earthquakes are estimated to have directly impacted over 23 million people's lives (Red Cross).
Countries from around the world have been helping rescue efforts including sending over specialist sniffer dog teams and equipment. With rescuers working through mountains of rubble in freezing snowy conditions to fund survivors.
Despite the heartbreaking impact of this tragedy there remain rays of hope. Most impressively amidst the odds-defying rescues still occurring each and every day. On Tuesday 14th, eight days and almost 200 hours since this natural disaster struck, we saw nine survivors dug out of the rubble alive.
How you can help as part of the global Urban Health Community
A natural disaster of this scale calls for a collective, collaborative global response if both the short-term search, rescue, relief and the medium-long term sustainable rehousing and rebuilding efforts are to succeed.
We are acutely aware of our role as the global urban health community as being well positioned to help. Many of our partners and members are already doing incredible work on the ground.
We have compiled a list of vetted partner organizations that are providing emergency response work on the ground and need support. If there are other charities you'd like us to consider including, please drop us a line.