Türkiye and Syria earthquake victims still need support six months on from the disaster
Many live in tents and in “104-degree heat” – says humanitarian worker helping survivors. Tens of thousands of buildings deemed unsafe are still waiting to be knocked down.
Six months on from the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and northwest Syria, the needs of those impacted continue to grow. Many people are also coping with the trauma of losing loved ones; their homes, jobs, access to education, and the reality that it will take many years to recover from the February 6th earthquakes.
“Almost six months have passed since the earthquakes, it's not long ago, but it doesn’t feel short. People are still suffering,” said Admir Bajrami, acting Country Director for Concern in Türkiye, “at the beginning there was shock and fear, the losses were just so huge. When organizations and the government started to respond to the emergency it brought hope, but the conditions are still very hard.”
“In the camps I experienced temperatures of over 104 degrees, and inside the tents it feels even worse. Seeing elderly people and babies in this melting heat could break a heart of stone. People feel sad, as they want to move to their routine, to their previous life, but it's impossible to immediately change their living conditions. Despite the loss of property and belongings, they haven’t lost the hope. They remain resilient but need our support,” said Mr. Bajrami, “This support lets people affected know that the world has not forgotten about them, which is incredibly important for their mental health recovery.”
Tens of thousands of buildings deemed unsafe are waiting to be knocked down, and then will need to be rebuilt. Meanwhile some people affected have been moved into livable containers or prefabs, though many more continue to live in tents.
There are also continuous aftershocks that can be felt, a painful reminder that already fragile buildings could collapse. This adds to the distress and anxiety people are living with.
“My life changed after the earthquake, I lost my uncle and my house collapsed. This time has been very challenging for us and we are trying to support each other. The village lost a few houses and my brother is living in Malatya and he lost his house too. We are still living in the tent and it’s very challenging,” said 13 year old Malak* who is from a remote village outside Adiyaman in Türkiye.
Malak* attends one of Concern’s psychosocial support sessions for children in her village, which uses play and learning to help children express their emotions in a healthy way.
Concern Worldwide is providing psychosocial support across the areas of response in Türkiye, to adults, children and their caregivers. So far it has reached 4,400 children and approximately 4,200 adults with psychosocial support across 5 regions.
Concern is also supplying food kits which include items such as rice, pasta, oil, sugar, and beans; hygiene kits with soap, sanitary pads, shampoo, toothbrushes and towels, and baby kits; nappies, changing mats, children’s potties. It’s also providing shelter kits with solar lamps, electric fans, mattresses, tarpaulins and commodes for people with disabilities, along with latrines, shower cabins and water tanks.
These material goods also offer a level of support to the mental health of the people that receive them.
"When we go to the field, especially in the villages, they say to us, ‘we supposed that people forgot about us but you are here and you are distributing something’,” added Ozge Celebi, area manager with Concern in Adiyaman.
“It's very meaningful. That's why this is actually kind of a psychosocial support, because we are saying that we are here and we are listening to you.”
Since February 6, Concern and partners have reached 31,795 households – over 161,000 people with food and hygiene supplies and shelter in Türkiye and northwest Syria.