TÜRKIYE AND SYRIA EARTHQUAKE
Our teams in Türkiye and Syria are working around the clock to support those in need. There is no time to waste.
In the early hours of 6 February 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Türkiye (Turkey) and Syria. This was followed by another earthquake soon afterwards and there have been thousands of aftershocks since. On 20 February, a new and powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey.
This is the world’s worst earthquake in a decade and the worst earthquake in Turkiye in nearly 100 years. The scale of death and devastation is unimaginable and will only continue to rise. Some places have become mass graveyards.
Many survivors are now homeless, forced to sleep in their cars or outside in the bitter winter cold.
Southern Türkiye (Turkey) has been heavily affected, especially areas around Gaziantep and Hatay/Antakya. These are major hubs for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) supporting Syria through a cross-border humanitarian operation.
The earthquake also hit areas in north-west Syria, including Aleppo. For people in Syria, this is a crisis on top of a crisis as the region continues to be heavily affected by conflict and 6.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
Our teams in Turkiye and Syria are working around the clock to support those in need. There is no time to waste.
They are experienced, having responded to the 1999 earthquake, but are now facing new
hurdles in getting aid to those who need it, including destroyed roads and an unprecedented scale of devastation.
The affected area is huge - approximately 1.5 times the size of the Republic of Ireland and 7 times the size of Northern Ireland.
Together with our partners in Turkiye and Syria, we are working to reach nearly 2 million people – 10 percent of the population affected by the quake – with essential aid and support so that they can rebuild their lives.
Getting aid to earthquake survivors in Türkiye and Syria
Meet the people directly impacted by the earthquakes.
MEET EMINE OGUZ
Emine Oguz, 60, says she jumped from her bed when the earthquake hit her home in Gaziantep, in southern Türkiye (Turkey).
Somehow she and her two sons, daughter in law, and two grandchildren managed to get outside, where they watched everything shake violently for two hours. Eventually, the freezing temperatures outside outweighed the danger in their home, and her elder son dashed inside to quickly grab some blankets. A neighbour suggested they go to the Middle East Exhibition Centre to escape the cold.
Oguz, 60, has lived through two other earthquakes in her life, but says
“This one was different, this one was terrible.”
She says when she is sitting down, it feels like her legs are shaking. “My legs don’t work how they used to,” she says between tears. Her son was the only member of the family who was working, he is a baker. His employer died in the earthquake and the building lost, he has lost his house, his friends, and his job.
MEET MÜNEVVER TUVARLAK
And the affected people include the staff of Oxfam KEDV, the Oxfam affiliate in Türkiye: Münevver Tuvarlak, 35, says she and her husband and two children fled their fourth-floor apartment in Gaziantep after the second large earthquake.
“We stayed in the car for about six hours after the earthquake.”
“I remember looking at the garden shake and thinking, this shouldn’t happen, gardens don’t shake like this."
She and her family are sheltering at Oxfam KEDV’s office, where she and other staff have already facilitated the provision of food, shelter, blankets and psychological support to some of most affected areas including Gaziantep, Hatay, and Mardin.
For many years, Oxfam KEDV has worked closely with a network of grassroot women-led organisations, and plans to continue this collaboration to reach up to 1.5 million people over the next three years, distributing food, cash, clean water and hygiene items; repairing water and sanitation systems and raising awareness of the threats of deadly diseases; and helping to protect vulnerable women and children from violence.
MEET MERYEM ASLAN
I have seen an apocalyptic disaster on the ground.
People are broken emotionally.
And the physical destruction is huge.
People are in need of care.
"They need shelter, they need water, they need psychosocial support, but most of all, they need care."
MEET AZIZA AHMED
Aziza Ahmed (26) has three children. She has a son and two daughters. She lives with her father-in-law and wider family members in Gazitenenp city. Her husband left seven months ago, and she has been supporting her family by working part time in a factory.
She told us that she jumped out of bed when the earthquake struck and grabbed her children, everyone was screaming and crying. They were so very scared. As they were making their way out of the house, they watched as the their family home collapsed behind them.
They immediately felt the cold, it was freezing but they had all left without any warm clothing. Her neighbour is kindly letting them use their bathroom, but they are cooking on an open fire and sleeping in sub zero temperatures.
“We don’t think about the future, living through this we are only surviving.”
MEET BERFIN AKDENIZ
At an industrial park on the outskirts of Gaziantep, Berfin Akdeniz, 18, is at a distribution center, sorting through baby grows (onesies) and nappies (diapers), a reminder of who some of the most vulnerable survivors are. These and other aid items are destined for a local hospital. Outside, a steady stream of cars and vans pull up outside, and the drivers report where aid is needed the most. Snow covers the ground as Turkish soldiers check everyone arriving at the warehouse.
This distribution centre is operated jointly by local aid groups, the government aid agency AFAD, and larger aid organizations like Oxfam KEDV. Akdeniz, a recent high school graduate planning to attend university to become a teacher, is volunteering here along with some of her friends. As part of their work to facilitate the delivery of aid to affected people, they check and recheck all the items about to go out the door.
“My family and friends are safe,” Akdeniz says. She is there “to show solidarity” with all those who are more unfortunate. “I am here because I need to be.”