In Turkiye and Syria, survivors are starting the journey to recovery after the largest earthquake in more than a century. Millions of people are displaced, and many continue to leave areas affected by the earthquake to seek shelter with loved ones, in neighboring cities or in emergency shelters. Urgent needs include shelter, health and mental health services, sanitation, food and water.
IN TURKIYE, efforts are focused on delivering essential aid to survivors:
- More than 5,000 Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) staff and volunteers continue to provide people with food, clean water and essential hygiene and relief supplies.
- More than 100 million hot meals have been distributed, along with more than 54,000 tents and 200,000 blankets.
- Together with the Ministry of Health, the Turkish Red Crescent is now providing health care in rural areas and in temporary shelters to help improve access to services, with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) technical support. 7 units are already running and 5 more are coming.
- Tens of thousands of relief items, including hygiene kits, winterized shelters, blankets, and other household goods have also been provided to affected people.
IMMENSE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS Teams are rapidly scaling up to support the immense negative mental health and psychosocial impacts of this earthquake. Red Crescent teams have set up safe spaces offering mental health and psychosocial support for children to play, supporting over 42,000 people, including first responders and health workers. They also provide psychological first aid and offer referrals to local health facilities. More than 47,000 people have been provided with mental health and psychological support services.
The Turkish Red Crescent, with support from the IFRC, is distributing e-vouchers to about 140,000 households in areas where markets are functioning, giving them the freedom to purchase what they need most and boost local economies. Many of those who benefit are Syrian.
IN SYRIA, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) continues to be the main humanitarian agency in Syria and is covering a wide scale of the impacts of the earthquake, including food, shelter, healthcare, and mental health support.
- 4,000 Syrian Arab Red Crescent staff and volunteers have provided over 3.5 million humanitarian services.
- Clinics and mobile health units have provided healthcare and medicines for more than 500,000 people.
- More than 1.7 million relief items have been distributed providing support for over 2.5 million people, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, winter clothes, hygiene supplies, and food and agriculture supplies.
Many of those affected by the earthquake were already living in vulnerable conditions before the earthquake in Syria. 12 years of conflict and crisis, and now the earthquake, have created a massive need for mental health services. SARC has provided psychological first aid to more than 33,000 survivors, especially children, as well as to paramedics and first responders.
In parallel, the Palestine Red Crescent in Syria, together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, continues to deliver aid, including food distribution, ambulances and medical services, focusing mainly on the Palestinian camps in Aleppo and Latakia.
HEALTH ISSUES A SECOND DISASTER The increasing number of people with diarrhea and other infectious diseases in collective shelters and earthquake-affected areas raises the risk of a second disaster.
Health teams are struggling to cope with the raising number of cases, while limited access to clean water and sanitation in collective shelters and affected areas could further increase the risk of infectious and water-borne diseases. Many of the emergency shelters have been set up in schools, mosques and other public buildings that will soon resume their regular activities. This may lead to a further wave of displacement toward the larger shelter centers, which are already operating at capacity.
The provision of water, sanitation and health services to prevent outbreaks is essential in northern Syria. Before the earthquake, Syria was facing a cholera outbreak, and with the entire health system already weakened, the IFRC network has been working tirelessly to help more than 1.5 million people at risk since last year.
GLOBAL RESPONSE NEEDED The magnitude of this response requires a team effort, as no one agency can manage the needs alone. Humanitarian needs are vast among the hundreds of thousands of people who were facing hardship before the earthquake struck – including those who have fled conflict in Syria and Türkiye. The IFRC and TRC will continue to support people fleeing conflict alongside numerous partners and officials on the ground.
The global Red Cross and Red Crescent network is calling for collective support and solidarity with people in Türkiye and Syria in the months and years ahead. The IFRC is bringing in support from around the world to support the earthquake response. Dozens of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have offered technical support and almost 60 National Societies have started domestic fundraising campaigns.
For its part, the American Red Cross has contributed two disaster responders to the relief efforts, specializing in communications and information management while continuing to assess ongoing needs.
CAN I VOLUNTEER OR DONATE IN-KIND GOODS? The American Red Cross sends highly specialized and experienced professionals with technical skills and expertise abroad only after the Red Cross or Red Crescent team requests assistance. Those not already on the Red Cross’s international disaster roster will not have the opportunity to deploy at this time. We encourage you to connect with your local Red Cross chapter for future opportunities or to visit redcross.org/volunteer for more information.
While we are grateful for the outpouring of support, it’s important to know that neither the American Red Cross, nor our global Red Cross partners, are accepting the donation of in-kind goods such as food, clothing, blankets or toys at this time. These items can be difficult to manage on the ground and divert resources from our mission.
HOW YOU CAN HELP Increased global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance are essential in the weeks and months of recovery ahead. You can donate to support the earthquake response through the American Red Cross. For those interested in helping people affected by the Türkiye (Turkey) earthquake, we ask that they write “Türkiye (Turkey) earthquake” in the memo line of a check and mail it with a completed donation form to the address on the form or to their local Red Cross chapter. Your donation enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.
As the scale of the earthquake’s devastation in Syria and Türkiye becomes clearer, the IFRC is increasing its Emergency Appeals to 650 million Swiss francs to respond to rising humanitarian needs in both countries. Donate directly to @IFRC here.