The massive earthquake on 6th February caused devastation in southern Türkiye. Around 50,000 people died and 2 million are living in temporary shelter.
This is an area where many displaced people were already living. In Gazientep and Hatay, about 20% of the population are refugees from the war in Syria. There are also many Afghan refugees in the area.
The level of destruction and displacement are overwhelming. Everywhere there are collapsed and crumbling buildings, emergency services and people on the move. And everywhere there are tents. Some are in large camps, some in makeshift settlements. And many are single tents outside homes, the people unable or too frightened to go inside.
After an initial exploration and rapid evaluation of how we could help, we quickly set to work.
Within two weeks of arriving, we’d partnered with local organisations and started delivering essential hygiene items to those in greatest need.
One of the most pressing problems is the lack of available toilets and showers. Poor sanitation is causing serious infectious diseases to spread, putting vulnerable people at even greater risk. That’s why we partnered with a local women’s agricultural cooperative to distribute essential hygiene items in towns surrounding Gazientep. The coop is already providing cooked meals—so our work supplements theirs and answers a pressing need.
We are also working alongside a local volunteer group in Antakya to help in the worst affected area, and with other local groups to carry out weekly hygiene distributions in six locations to complement what they do.
In addition to hygiene items, communities in more rural areas need food. We were the first aid workers to arrive in a number of villages, where people are asking for food essentials—and Ramadan is about to begin.
Our first distribution began the weekend of 11th March, and we continue to respond dynamically to changing needs while constantly evaluating our impact.
We believe that in this way we can help to support people with food and hygiene essentials—while showing them that they are not alone and that people around the world care.